Manufacturing Booming in Texas - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Manufacturing Booming in Texas

'Factory activity' is up, employers plan to raise wages this year



    Manufacturing Booming in Texas

    A new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows that, increasingly, Texas is a place that makes things. (Published Thursday, June 14, 2018)

    Mammas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys. Or, in some cases, college graduates.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a professional degree — which includes a wide range of certifications and education levels ranging from law school to a technical education — resulted in the lowest unemployment rate nationwide in 2017 when compared to all other levels of educational attainment (1.5 percent, tied with doctorate degree) in addition to the highest median usual weekly earnings ($1,836).

    That news could help shape schooling and career decisions for some.

    If that is not enough to convince someone that seeking a technical education will not be worth their while, a new report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas might help. It shows that, increasingly, Texas is becoming a state that makes things.

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    What the Federal Reserve calls ‘Factory Activity’ was up 10 points in the month of May, the highest rise of any month since 2006, which was considered to be a banner year for manufacturing in the Lone Star State.

    In addition, a Federal Reserve quarterly survey of 250+ manufacturing employers in the state revealed that 70 percent of them noted they were struggling to find qualified candidates to fill open positions. That percentage was up from February when 65 percent of them noted being in the same situation.

    On top of that, a majority of those same companies stated that their primary strategy to recruit and retain qualified candidates will be to raise wages in the next 12 months.

    The timing of this news is music to the ears of the administration at Collin College. The school is in the process of an all-new Technical Campus in Allen. The campus, set to open in the fall of 2020, will focus on “automotive technology, construction trades, HVAC, health sciences, information technology, manufacturing, supply chain management, welding and other areas supporting local businesses and industries,” according to a news release.

    “[The new venture] is exciting, but it is also taking a risk,” said Abe Johnson, Ed. D., Vice President and Provost of the Collin College Plano campus. “And in higher education, especially in technology as it is evolving as we have seen, we have to be able to take a risks to be able to meet the needs of our local community.”

    Johnson credits multiple recent ‘think tanks’ — meetings with local manufacturing and engineering employers — with helping Collin College to shape the curriculum they will teach at the new technical campus.

    Among the firms that have contributed to those think tanks is UNICOM Engineering of Plano.

    UNICOM builds hardware solutions based on technology from industry giants like Intel and Dell for leading software companies.

    “We design, build, ship and support hardware equipment that runs software for things like email, web filtering, data protection, storage solutions,” explained Lisa Ryan, VP of Marketing for UNICOM Engineering.

    UNICOM added staff to their manufacturing and engineering rosters within the last quarter, according to John Ryan, UNICOM Engineering’s VP of Global Manufacturing Operations.

    Ryan said that the necessary skills for his employees are changing rapidly, and that a partnership with local schools like Collin College can go a long way.

    “I think in five years we will be talking about things that don't exist today,” Ryan said. “The advances in storage, in data transmission speeds, in capability are absolutely going to change the way we do things day-to-day. And five years is almost a lifetime.”

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