Posted at 1:47 PM
Today, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Bruce Andrews delivered remarks at the opening of Local Motors’ National Harbor facility. The new Local Motors’ National Harbor location exemplifies the strength of American industry through the facility’s focus on 3D-printing, co-creation and the unveiling of Local Motors’ Olli, an on-demand self-driving shuttle.
In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Andrews highlighted the importance of innovation for the future of U.S. manufacturing in the 21st century. According to ManpowerGroup's 2015 annual Talent Shortage Survey, 32 percent of U.S. employers report difficulties filling job vacancies due to talent shortages. Deputy Secretary Andrews affirmed the Obama administration’s commitment to advancing innovation through initiatives such as the upcoming National Week of Making and Department of Commerce’s Manufacturing Day, both of which promote workforce skills needed to compete in the global economy.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you for that kind welcome. I am delighted to be here for the opening of Local Motors’ new facility. I want to thank you, Jay, for extending me this invitation. Advanced manufacturing is one of most exciting sectors to take off in the 21st century. If the first wave of innovation unleashed by the Internet was the digitization of everyday life, the second wave is the digitization of industry.
During my time at Ford Motor Company, I remember seeing the very beginning of the digital design revolution and how it helped the company innovate. Today, as 3D printers, laser cutters, design software, and other digital tools drop in price, more Americans are gaining access to technologies that were previously only available to large corporations. That means more entrepreneurs, start-ups, and everyday people can design, build, and bring innovative products to market.
Given the growing availability of these amazing technologies, it’s no surprise that more and more Americans are embracing our identity as a “Nation of Makers." On Friday, President Obama will kick off our third-annual National Week of Making – a string of events that bring together universities, research labs, and other groups to inspire a new generation of tinkerers, inventors, and makers.
Local Motors is a leader in this new “Makers Movement” – introducing exciting new ways to build cars through co-creation, digital manufacturing, and micro-factories. So there is no better time and no better place than Local Motors to discuss the importance of innovation to manufacturing – and manufacturing’s importance to our economy.
Manufacturers helped build the American middle class and create the world’s most innovative economy. Today, manufacturers fund two-thirds of all private sector-driven R&D. They also receive roughly 70 percent of new patents. Clearly, this industry is a driving force for innovation. And President Obama has made revitalizing manufacturing a priority from day one. Since the end of the Great Recession in 2010, manufacturers have added over 900,000 new jobs - a rate of growth unseen since the 1990s.
Yet in today’s global economy, the future of manufacturing lies in our ability to stay on the cutting-edge.
That is where the Department of Commerce comes in. We understand that forces like globalization and automation have profoundly changed our economy. The manufacturing jobs of the future won’t look like the ones of the past.
For U.S. manufacturers to lead in the 21st century, we must equip entrepreneurs, startups, and workers with the technologies and skills they need to innovate. One critical step towards securing our leadership in advanced manufacturing is President Obama’s National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, or NNMI. This initiative brings private sector leaders, community colleges, universities, NGOs, and the needed supply chains together to collaborate on a specific technology with the potential to go from lab to market in the next five to seven years.
The Department of Commerce helps build these ecosystems of innovation in two ways. First, we stand up Commerce-led manufacturing institutes in the technology areas that industry tells us are most needed. Second, we provide the support that this growing network needs to spur collaboration and learning between institutes. Today, we have eight institutes, each working on innovative technologies – from additive manufacturing to next generation semiconductors.
I am pleased to see Dr. Craig Blue, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, here with us today. Based out of Knoxville, Tennessee, this Institute is developing new advanced composite materials with the goal of creating products that are lighter and stronger than anything on the market today. They’re also testing out new, cost-effective recycling methods for the automotive industry. And they’re partnering with dozens of companies, including Local Motors, to get technology out of the lab, into the market, and on the road.
At the Commerce Department, we’re proud of our work building out the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation. But there’s so much more work to do. Currently, we’re running a competition in which private and public sector partners across America make the case for new institutes in their communities. Already, we’ve received strong proposals that cover many distinct, industry-selected topics– but Congress has only allocated funding for one new institute. We need Congress to support President Obama’s FY17 budget, which would provide funding for three new institutes nationwide.
To drive innovation and compete in the 21st century, our workers need skills for the 21st century. We know that businesses are struggling to fill vacancies in fields like advanced manufacturing. In fact, one-third of employers surveyed by Manpower in 2015 said it’s too hard to find job applicants with the right skillsets. Part of the problem is that for too long, federal training programs did not seek input from the private sector. That is why the Department of Commerce has developed a “Skills for Business” initiative that works with industry to find out which skills are most in demand. By collaborating with the Departments of Education and Labor, we’re giving America’s business community a voice in our federal workforce training programs.
Beyond cultivating skills, we also need to create more excitement around careers in manufacturing. Too often, when you say the word “manufacturing,” young Americans picture the assembly line jobs of the 19th century instead of the innovative, technology-driven jobs of the future.
At the Department of Commerce, we are working to change that misperception. In 2012, we created Manufacturing Day, held on the first Friday of every October. This year it falls on October 7th, and it’s already shaping up to be an incredible day. We will have over 3,000 manufacturers, research labs, and universities opening their doors for tours and demonstrations that showcase the high-skilled, high-tech jobs available in manufacturing today. If you are a manufacturer, I encourage you to open your doors and show off your innovations too. You can learn more online at mfgday.com.
We’ve been inspired by the stories of young people who not only found jobs – but also careers – thanks to Manufacturing Day events. One of those stories comes from Detroit Tool and Engineering – a small firm that has built custom automation systems for over 80 years. When Chris Monzyk – a student at a nearby technical college – toured their facility, he saw firsthand how exciting a career in advanced manufacturing could be. Eventually, Detroit Tool and Engineering hired Chris as a machinist. They provided him with specialized training, and matched him with one of their most experienced employees as his mentor. Today, Chris says that working in manufacturing is – and I quote – “fun, exciting, and new every day. I get to make something from virtually nothing.”
Fun. Exciting. New every day. Chris’s words embody the innovative and creative spirit of Local Motors. They also remind us why the Obama Administration is working to support a “Nation of Makers” every day.
In today’s global economy, if we want to keep growing, if we want to keep out-competing, we must keep innovating. So let’s keep working together to give America’s makers the skills and technology they need to compete.
Together, we can create a new century of American innovation in manufacturing - one that provides lasting careers and builds lasting prosperity in our communities. Thank you.