Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds made a stop Oct. 1 in Osceola to celebrate National Manufacturing Week.
They toured Miller Products with Miller Products staff; Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton; officials from the state's community colleges and Bill Trickey, executive director of Clarke County Development Corporation.
Branstad said his office has worked with Iowa Association of Business and Industry, and Miller Products has been a longtime member, dating back to the Iowa Manufacturers' Association.
"They have a long history," he said. "So, we thought this was a good, solid Iowa company, and it would be good to visit and see the changes and progress that's taken place here."
About Miller Products
Miller Products was founded in 1936 as a bicycle dealer and kick-stand manufacturer. The business has evolved into a supplier of screw-machine products.
Miller Products manufactures a line of stock nonthreaded pins. This line includes a wide range of lock, hitch, bent and tension-lock-hitch pins.
In addition to its stock line, they also manufacture custom-turned machine parts.
From Sept. 30 to Oct. 4, Branstad and Reynolds toured manufacturing businesses across the state of Iowa.
According to a press release from the governor's office, there are more than 3,500 companies engaged in manufacturing in Iowa, employing more than 211,000 Iowans with an average wage of more than $51,000. All told, the manufacturing sector contributes more than $27.6 billion, or 18 percent, to Iowa’s gross state product.
After the tour was held at Miller Products, Branstad and Reynolds discussed the state's growing problem of manufacturing jobs available, but not enough people have the trade skills or education available to fill these jobs.
Branstad said the challenge is communicating to young people there are good jobs paying $20 an hour or more, however many of these jobs require technical skills.
"Unfortunately, some of those jobs can't be filled because we can't find people with the right skill set," he said. "We hear this everywhere we go around the state Iowa and, I guess, around the country."
Skilled Iowa Initiative
According to Branstad, the state has started the Skilled Iowa Initiative, a program providing assurances to employers and potential employers that local workforces have the skills and abilities to fill job openings.
The initiative promotes the National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) testing to potential job seekers, encourages businesses to hire certified workers when applicable and provides resources to those looking to improve their skills.
Reynolds said it is also important to focus on the state's STEM Initiative. STEM is an acronym standing for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
According to the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council website, STEM is, "an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real-world lessons as students apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics in contexts that make connections between school, community, work and the global enterprise, enabling the development of STEM literacy, and with it, the ability to compete in the new economy."
"Almost everything requires math and science, and for our young people to be successful and to be ready for a career for higher education when they leave high school, they need to know how to communicate and problem solve," Reynolds said. "Science and math just impacts everything that they do."
Reynolds said the STEM Initiative and its programs have reached approximately 100,000 students across the state this year.
"We're really excited. We're working on the future," she said.