BizVoice -- January / February 2018

66 BizVoice/Indiana Chamber – January/February 2018 NAM also reports these indicators: • Manufacturing accounted for $98.4 billion in total output from the state in 2016 • In the same year, there were 516,900 employees in the manufacturing sector and the average annual compensation was $74,849 And in 2016, the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University released a study showing advanced manufacturing makes up over half of all of Indiana’s manufacturing employment. All are signs that Indiana’s manufacturing sector is flourishing. But is it sustainable for years to come? The workforce challenges are daunting and some of the potential solutions are long term. They require changing the perception of manufacturing by young people; that means it may take years before there is a payoff that translates to an increased labor pool. Workforce, workforce, workforce There’s the old adage about “location, location, location” being the No. 1 factor for business success. When it comes to the overall economy and manufacturing, however, many have suggested that should change to “workforce, workforce, workforce.” Jody Fledderman, president and CEO of Batesville Tool & Die, notes he is more concerned about workforce availability than development. Fledderman points to Indiana’s low unemployment rate and slow population growth as major red flags. “Between Indiana having a million job openings in the next 10 years … population growth is 1% – the math doesn’t add up. We need more people or the jobs are going to go somewhere else,” he warns. “We’ve been through these things before at tight unemployment times. This one is different and it has a different feel to it. We see it getting way worse before it gets better. We’re already at almost full employment and a lot of growth to deal with. It’s a pretty simple basic question: Where are the people going to come from?” Fledderman points to one possible solution: incentivizing people to move to Indiana. He says Indiana companies are fighting over the same workers. And eventually getting more workers (by encouraging those at the high school level or younger) doesn’t solve the immediate needs. “It feels like there’s a bubble that’s going to burst and right now it’s a wage battle, By Charlee Beasor Workers, Image and a Whole Lot More FUTURE FOCUS We make stuff in Indiana. More accurately, we make a lot of stuff in Indiana. Indiana leads the nation in manufacturing, both in share of gross state product (28.7% in 2016) and employment (16.8% in 2016), according to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). (See more in Found Elsewhere on Page 54). Manufacturing: Tomorrow Despite Indiana’s current status as a national leader in manufacturing, employers point to worrisome challenges such as a lack of qualified workers and a negative perception that keeps young people from following the career path.