New Opportunities abound in 2016

Posted on Jan 26, 2016 :: Editors Note
Sean P. Johnson
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

Welcome to 2016! One of the great things about starting a new year is the chance to reflect on opportunities that await in the coming months. The blank calendar squares and journal pages, for now, represent a wide open future where anything is possible.

Of course, they will soon fill up with the meetings, prospects and projects that lead to new clients and new successes.

We’re exploring new opportunities here at Insight Publications as well. As you have probably noticed, the picture above this column has changed as I will be taking over the editorship of Insight on Manufacturing. Some of you will recognize the name and photo. I’ve been a writer for the magazine off and on since its inception and I have held the position of senior associate editor at Insight since May 2014.

This new role gives me a chance to build on the outstanding work of my predecessors and an opportunity to expand our company mission of “connecting minds, creating insights.” For IOM, that means specifically connecting people, ideas and resources to maintain and grow the vibrant manufacturing sector we benefit from in Northeast Wisconsin.

With nearly one-quarter of our workforce engaged in manufacturing, and nearly one-fifth of GDP tied to manufacturing, the industry is a critical one for the region, and I look forward to working with the broader manufacturing community to celebrate the successes and make important connections.

Both the successes and challenges are highlighted in this month’s issue.

For the past several years, the Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Alliance has surveyed manufacturers in the region to try and capture how the industry is performing and the outlook for the coming year. A story on page 14 by former IOM Editor Nikki Kallio highlights that by almost all measures, this vital sector continues to see growth, though perhaps not quite as robust as last year’s projections.

But there is one cautionary indicator in the survey:  the continuing struggles to find enough qualified workers for hundreds of available positions. Even with the concerted efforts of NEWMA and the education community to ramp up enrollments in technical college programs and create new offerings, this trend continues to haunt the industry.

Part of the challenge is perception. Current students — and particularly their parents — don’t necessarily have an accurate image of what modern manufacturing is. That only further highlights the need for programs such as Project G.R.I.L.L. (see our cover story beginning on page 8) that bring current manufacturers and students together to realistically explore what modern manufacturing is all about.

To further enhance the perception of careers in manufacturing, Insight has partnered with NEWMA to produce the Manufacturing All-Stars publication included within this month’s issue. This special publication highlights the people and careers helping to reinforce the positive image of a career in manufacturing.

These are the stories we want to use IOM to tell. That brings up a new opportunity for you in our readership community — a chance to tell us about the great ideas, projects and collaborations you are pursuing in your effort to build a more vibrant manufacturing industry. Please use the email address above, or call me at (920) 882-0491.

I look forward to hearing from you as we pursue the opportunities 2016 will bring our way.