May 01, 2015

Senator Gillibrand Announces Legislation to Bolster Manufacturing Education at Universities and Train New York’s Workforce for 21st Century Economy

Gillibrand’s Legislation Would Designate “Manufacturing Universities” to Help Schools Strengthen Engineering Programs and Meet Growing Demands of Modern Manufacturing More Than 30 Percent of New York Manufacturers Report Difficulty Retaining Skilled Workers

East Syracuse, NY – Standing at SBB, Inc. in East Syracuse today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced new bipartisan legislation to bolster manufacturing education at universities and train the workforce to meet the growing demands of the 21st century manufacturing sector. Gillibrand introduced The Manufacturing Universities Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill that would designate 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’ and provide schools with incentives to better align their educational offerings with the needs of modern manufacturers. The legislation will provide qualifying universities grants of $5 million per year, for a four-year period, that will help universities enhance their engineering programs to emphasize manufacturing skills, incentivize partnerships with local manufacturers, increase internship and cooperative education opportunities for students, and help more recent graduates launch new manufacturing businesses.

Manufacturing contributes $1.8 trillion to the American economy annually and manufacturing jobs pay more, contribute more jobs to the local service economy, and the sector has a higher multiplier effect than any other. Yet many manufacturers are unable to fill open positions because prospective employees do not have the requisite training. The Society of Manufacturing Engineers predicts that the number of unfilled manufacturing jobs could increase to 3 million by 2015. According to a 2014 New York Federal Reserve report, more than 30 percent of New York manufacturers said it was difficult to retain skilled workers, which had increased from 24 percent the previous year and 22 percent two years prior. According to the State University of New York (SUNY) Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) careers, which include jobs in manufacturing, are growing 2.5 times faster than other fields in New York. These jobs demand higher skills, as is proof by the fact that over 70 percent of the STEM workforce in New York State have at least a bachelor’s degree.

“If we want our local businesses to expand and grow Upstate New York’s economy, then we need to make sure our workforce has the skills and training to match,” said Senator Gillibrand. “No job should go unfilled and no company’s expansion should ever be inhibited because there aren’t enough trained workers. This legislation will equip more students with the advanced manufacturing skills and experience necessary to meet growing demand and ensure New York’s manufacturing sector remains innovative and globally competitive.”

“As a rapidly growing Syracuse based manufacturer of world leading cleanroom packages and equipment SBB not only enthusiastically supports Senator Gillibrand’s initiative to boost College and University training for manufacturing careers but also looks forward to directly participating in the results.  Being able to connect with local universities for staffing and technical resources has already helped us advance our business and Senator Gillibrand’s initiative would truly benefit companies like ours in filling currently open job positions and developing the new technologies to grow and continue to create great new jobs for the future.  SBB is committed to manufacturing in the United States and firmly believes that our competitiveness around the world is based on our ability to be more advanced, efficient and creative than our competition.  To keep our leading edge and continue to grow we need talented and well trained staff that understand and appreciate the skills and opportunities within the manufacturing industry and Senator Gillibrand’s initiative will provide a valuable connection to resources for everyone to succeed,” said SBB’s General Manager, Brandon Bogart.

“MACNY and the Alliance have long maintained that our sector is only as strong as its workforce. In order to remain globally competitive, it is critical we provide our sector with the tools needed in order to shape and support a highly skilled workforce.  Senator Gillibrand’s Manufacturing Universities bill does just this: it provide our current and future workforce with the advanced manufacturing skills and experience necessary to be both competitive and innovative. On behalf of the statewide manufacturing community, I thank Senator Gillibrand for her leadership on this critical issue, and we look forward to working with her to build tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce today,” said MACNY and Manufacturers Alliance of New York State President Randy Wolken.

“We applaud Senator Gillibrand for proposing legislation to strengthen university programs that prepare students for careers in next-generation manufacturing,” said Edward Bogucz, Executive Director of SyracuseCoE. “The proposed legislation would create new opportunities for SyracuseCoE and our collaborators to extend and expand our work with companies like SBB and many others, to strengthen Central New York’s emerging regional cluster of manufacturing firms in thermal and environmental controls, and to grow good jobs in our communities.”

"Syracuse University's College of Engineering and Computer Science greatly appreciates Senator Gillibrand’s visionary commitment to preparing students for new opportunities and challenges in advanced manufacturing. We look forward to leveraging our long-standing collaborations with manufacturers throughout the country and around the world when the proposed legislation is approved and signed into law, and we welcome the opportunity to demonstrate our support for this effort," said Dean Mohan, Interim Dean of Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science.

Gillibrand’s legislation would help prepare more engineers for careers in innovation and advanced manufacturing by designating 25 universities as ‘Manufacturing Universities’ that will focus on advanced manufacturing and engineering. The legislation would establish a program within the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) charged with designating the 25 schools as ‘Manufacturing Universities.’ Designated schools would receive $5 million per year for four years to meet specific goals, including focusing engineering programs on manufacturing, building new partnerships with manufacturing firms, growing training opportunities, and fostering manufacturing entrepreneurship. The program would be run by the Director of the NIST, in coordination with the Secretaries of Defense and Energy, and the Director of the National Science Foundation, among others.

In order for a school to receive the ‘manufacturing university’ designation and funding, universities will be required to apply and submit a plan for goals to be achieved within four years. The plan will describe how the university will:

  • Improve engineering programs to emphasize manufacturing;
  • Increase the number of joint projects with manufacturing firms;
  • Increase the number of students who participate in for-credit internships and cooperative education;
  • Increase the number of students who receive bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in engineering, in disciplines related to manufacturing;
  • Cover the costs of equipment and facilities necessary to carry out its manufacturing goals;
  • Increase the number of new manufacturing businesses launched by recent graduates;
  • Oversee interdisciplinary programs related to manufacturing innovation and productivity across all various university colleges, departments, and programs;
  • Designate an appropriate individual to oversee and coordinate activities as a result of this plan.  The person may be designated as a “Chief Manufacturing Officer;”
  • Structure the manufacturing engineering program to positively impact the local economy;
  • Recognize and reward faculty, including through decisions of tenure, for developing new means to increase interactions with manufacturing companies.

Gillibrand introduced the legislation on March 18th along with U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House Representatives by Representatives Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Chris Collins (R-NY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) and is cosponsored by Representatives Richard Hanna (R-NY), Bill Foster (D-IL), John Katko (R-NY), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Norma Torres (D-CA) and Brian Higgins (D-NY).

This bipartisan legislation has been endorsed by Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the Precision Metalforming Association, the National Tooling & Machining Association, the University of Rochester, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the State University of New York (SUNY) System, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Syracuse University, Clarkson University, Alfred University, Dow, DuPont, and Siemens.