IPC Workforce Pledge Draws White House Praise, Points the Way to Jobs of the Future

by John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO

It’s not every day one is invited to attend an event at the White House in Washington, D.C.

However, last week, I had the opportunity to do just that on behalf of IPC. During that event, White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump praised IPC, among others, for joining in a nationwide, private-sector pledge to create new high-skilled workforce opportunities for more than 6 million Americans over the next five years.

President Trump kicked off the workforce challenge to U.S. businesses in July. As a longtime leader in education and training within the electronics industry, IPC took it as an opportunity to review our existing programs and identify ways to grow and innovate. The result? IPC joined the Pledge to America’s Workers by promising to create new career opportunities for at least 1 million Americans in the electronics industry. IPC’s pledge is backed by millions of dollars in current and planned investments and the support of our 2,500 U.S. member organizations.

We’re doing this because the chronic shortage of skilled workers is the top business challenge facing the U.S. electronics industry. We estimate that there are more than 10,000 unfilled positions in our industry today. Our workforce is aging and retiring faster than we can hire replacements. More than two-thirds of our members report that their inability to find skilled workers is limiting their growth. Too often, today’s workers lack essential knowledge and skills including math, basic technology skills, and problem-solving.

The pledge is based on the simple premise that employers—individually and collectively—have the primary obligation to understand and address their own workforce needs. They need not take up the task alone, but they cannot wait for others to lead.

There are many steps that companies and associations in the private sector can take. At IPC, we are expanding our education, training and certification programs for both existing workers and younger adults and students, providing valuable credentials that will lead to new career opportunities. We’re also working to create more than 1,000 new “earn-and-learn” opportunities through a network of electronics companies, universities, and community colleges. We’re spreading the word that many noble, “cool,” and lucrative careers can be had by those who gain technical knowledge and experience in the electronics field.

While no one has a crystal ball, we do know that the jobs of the future will be very different from the jobs of today. We can choose to fear this change, as many do, or we can embrace it by leading and investing in innovation and education.

It’s important to remember that advanced manufacturing, which relies heavily on robotics and precision automation, is revitalizing the U.S. industrial base. The workers in these cutting-edge facilities have less hands-on interaction with manual tools and greater reliance on computer-managed machinery. That makes manufacturing cleaner and safer than it was in the past, but it also places new skills requirements on workers.

In that vein, IPC has convened a team of electronics industry experts that is currently working to identify the skills and competencies needed to perform every role in the electronics industry over the next 10 years. We are redesigning our credentialing programs to align with these findings and to empower individuals at every educational level to enter our industry and upskill.

Just as other high-tech sectors have expanded their worker credentialing, so too will we. In this environment, credentials become the key to employment and career advancement. Our task as an industry is to make our credentialing programs accessible, stackable, and scalable to ensure the most robust talent pipeline possible.

Overcoming the skilled workforce shortage is a collaborative effort that will require stronger relationships among companies, associations, schools, and technical training programs. That collaboration, however, is already on the rise, and together we can develop the workforce needed to compete in the global economy.

Midterm Election Results and What it Means for Our Industry

Join IPC tomorrow, November 9 at 11:30 am (EST) for the “Midterm Election Results and What it Means for Our Industry” webinar. Chris Mitchell, IPC’s Vice President for Global Government Relations, and the political team at Prime Policy Group and PSB Research will provide an analysis of the election results, the policy outlook for the next Congress, and the implications for the electronics industry. While the election results suggest multiple narratives, voter apathy was not one of them. The New York Times estimated that 114 million votes were cast in House races, which was up from the 83 million who voted in the 2014 midterm elections.

Some of the significant takeaways that will be discussed in more detail during the free webinar include:

• The 2018 election night was a good night for Democrats
• A strengthened Senate Republican majority is well-poised to advance Trump nominees
• President Trump still knows how to rally his base
• The 2020 elections start now
• Do not expect bipartisan compromise and grand bargains
• IPC is well-poised to advance our priorities
• The policy and political watch for the next 116th Congress

Register here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/9036423568947937283

 

IPC Participates in White House “Our Pledge to America’s Workers” Event

On October 31, IPC announced that it has signed the President’s Pledge to the American Worker and made a commitment to create at least 1 million new training and workforce development opportunities in the electronics industry over the next five years. IPC‘s announcement coincided with an event at the White House with President Trump, White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow, and other Administration officials.

IPC President and CEO John Mitchell and representatives from four IPC member companies — Calumet Electronics, Green Circuits, Summit Interconnect, and Zentech — were invited to participate in the event. In brief remarks, Ivanka Trump recognized IPC and praised our commitment to skilled workforce opportunities. View recording of the event.

L to R: Joe O’Neil of Green Circuits; Meredith LaBeau of Calumet Electronics; John Mitchell of IPC; Ivanka Trump; Shane Whiteside of Summit Interconnect; Darryl Graves of Zentech

 

Calumet Electronics, which is one of the largest employers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, was featured in a local TV news report following the event. View the video news clip.

Get Involved and Help Grow the Workforce of Tomorrow
To achieve the goal of creating 1 million new training and career opportunities over the next five years, IPC is calling on IPC member companies to join our “IPC Workforce Champions” campaign. IPC Workforce Champions commit to work with IPC on three of our five education, training and workforce development programs, including participating in the IPC Job Task Analysis Committee; developing “Earn and Learn” programs; partnering with IPC on STEM programming in secondary and post-secondary schools; supporting scholarships through the IPC Education Foundation; and adopting the IPC certification framework in their companies.

Some of the IPC members that have already joined the IPC Workforce Champions and are leading the way to address the skills gap include:

• ALTEX
• Green Circuits
• Eagle Circuits
• Optimum Design
• STI Electronics
• Summit Interconnect
• TTM Technologies
• VirTex MTI

To learn more about IPC Workforce Champions and/or to sign up, please visit: go.ipc.org/gr-pledge.

For questions about IPC Workforce Champions, please contact Ken Schramko, senior director, North American government relations at KenSchramko@ipc.org.

Are You Concerned About Counterfeit Electronics in Your Supply Chain?

by John Mitchell, IPC President and CEO

Many IPC members have expressed to me their ongoing concern about the proliferation of counterfeit electronics. The intrusion of counterfeit electronics into the supply chain is a threat to the reputation and operations of every electronics manufacturer.

Several months ago, I had the opportunity to receive a tour of the Crane Naval facility (the Executive Agent for Printed Circuit and Interconnect Technologies) and experience some of their counterfeit research and countermeasures directly. Crane is arguably the best in the world at this. I believe many of you would benefit from a similar experience and knowledge download.

To help our members better protect themselves, IPC is partnering with the Executive Agent (EA) to hold a special event next month. We have arranged for members to get a rare, behind-the-scenes tour of the EA’s facilities and the work they are doing to thwart counterfeit electronics. In a day-long symposium that follows, the experts at Crane will discuss global counterfeit trends and the protocols all manufacturers should establish to safeguard the integrity of their supply chains.

If you have concerns about counterfeit electronics in your supply chain, I strongly encourage you to register for this important and unique symposium and tour. Please note that, given the sensitive nature of the EA’s work, attendees must be U.S. persons working for companies that serve the defense market in some fashion. Participation in this event is capped, so register soon.

For more information, visit the event website or contact Chris Mitchell, IPC vice president of global government relations at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.

New EU Chemicals Database on Candidate List Substances in Articles by 2021

As part of the European Union’s “circular economy” policy, EU officials want to expand the secondary raw materials market. The potential presence of chemicals of concern in recycled materials is seen as a potential barrier to the development of this market. Therefore, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is working to establish a new database on the presence of hazardous chemicals in articles by the end of 2019 to inform both waste treatment operators and consumers. The database will comprise information submitted by companies producing, importing or selling articles that contain Candidate List substances, meaning Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs). Companies will need to submit this information by the end of 2020.

The legal basis for this database is the recently revised EU waste framework directive, which entered into force last July. It is part of the EU’s waste legislation package, aimed at contributing to the EU’s move towards a circular economy by improving the risk management of chemicals during waste recovery while promoting non-toxic material cycles. At the same time, this database will increase the pressure on industry to substitute substances of concern.

IPC’s Senior Director of Europe, Nicolas Robin, and the IPC 2-18b Committee are working closely with ECHA and the European Commission to convey IPC members’ concerns and ensure that new requirements do not create inappropriate reporting burdens for companies. The committee has provided a comprehensive response to ECHA’s recent public consultation on the topic. In addition, IPC is looking at how the widely-used standard, IPC-1752A, might be able to meet all of ECHA’s requirements for reporting into the new candidate list database, facilitating the uptake of existing declarations data, and making it easier to use the database.

Should you have any concerns or comments, please contact IPC’s senior director, IPC Europe, Nicolas Robin.

Consultation on the Interface Between the EU’s Chemical, Product and Waste Legislation

The European Union promotes a “circular economy” with closed-loop production based as much as possible on reparability, reusability and recycling. But in order for more products to be recycled or reused, it is crucial to tackle the challenges at the source, by ensuring that the product design facilitates recycling, and by substituting, whenever feasible, hazardous substances with suitable alternatives.

In this context, the European Commission recently asked stakeholders their opinions on the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation. The questionnaire drafted by the European Commission covers some key issues for the electronics industry, including the definition of ‘substances of concern’ and the tracking of these substances.

Based on Commission’s communication on this subject, the aim of the questionnaire is to get stakeholders’ views on four issues posing obstacles to ‘the safe uptake of secondary raw materials’ and a number of related challenges: lack of information on substances of concern in products and waste; presence of substances of concern in recycled materials; difficulties in applying end-of-waste criteria; and unclear application of EU waste classification methodologies.

This is one of the priority issues for the electronics industry in Europe, and IPC’s Senior Director of Europe, Nicolas Robin, is currently working with IPC members on a common response to the consultation. Please don’t hesitate to share your views and concerns. The deadline has been set for October 29, 2018.

The European Commission’s key Policy Officer responsible for the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation, Enrique Garcia-John, will be one of the speakers at this year’s IPC IMPACT Europe on November 28-29 in Brussels. Register now to speak directly with high level EU decision-makers, make your voice heard, and better understand future EU legislative plans.

IPC Hosts Workshop on the Future of the Defense Electronics Industry

On Friday, October 19, more than 40 industry executives participated in a day-long discussion on the defense electronics industrial base in Bannockburn, Illinois.

IPC—in partnership with WHMA and ECIA—organized the event to support the ongoing effort by the Department of Defense (DoD) to assess the U.S. defense electronics industrial base. Pursuant to Section 845 of the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), DoD is required to provide this assessment to Congress by January 31, 2019. IPC was the primary champion for this provision during congressional consideration, and the provision is reflective of the comprehensive evaluation of the defense electronics supply chain that IPC has long called for.

The October 19 discussion focused on five segments of the industry that are sometimes overlooked by policymakers, namely PCB, EMS, cable/wire harness, connectors, and passive components.

The event kicked off with Dr. Robert Irie, who oversees electronics for the DoD’s Industrial Policy Office, offering remarks on the recent White House report on the overall defense industrial base and the important and complementary purpose of the defense electronics assessment now underway.

IPC Director of Research Sharon Starr delivered the results and analysis of an IPC/WHMA/ECIA survey, which underscored many issues facing the industry, including shortages in skilled workers and suppliers.

Participants then divided into their industry segments for focused discussions on a range of issues that DoD is required to assess. In the afternoon, participants came back together to report on their perspectives and conclusions.

Dr. Irie and officials from the Executive Agent for PCBs at Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane were on hand to listen and ask questions.

If you are interested in this initiative, it is not too late to offer your perspectives. IPC will soon release a report on the workshop, affording IPC members one last opportunity to provide their input.

Please contact Chris Mitchell, IPC’s Vice President of Global Government Relations, if you would like more information.

IPC Needs Your Expertise at Defense Industrial Base Workshop on October 19

IPC, in collaboration with WHMA and ECIA, has organized a workshop to support the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in its ongoing assessment of the defense electronics industrial base. DoD is required by law to undertake this assessment and must deliver its report to Congress by January 31.

This assessment affords the electronics industry a meaningful and well-timed opportunity to help shape U.S. policies to strengthen the domestic manufacturing base.

To ensure that the report is reflective of the industry’s concerns, the DoD needs your help! DoD wants information and insights from you and your peers about key segments of the industry, including PCB, EMS, cable/wire harness, connectors and passive components.

DoD officials will be on hand to listen to industry discussion, and Dr. Robert Irie of DoD’s Military Industrial Base Policy Office will offer remarks to attendees.

IPC and its members have worked hard to raise concerns about the state of the U.S. defense electronics supply chain. We now have DoD’s attention. Let’s not miss this opportunity to communicate directly with DoD about the needs of the electronics industry.

Please register for this free event and please share the invitation with peers who may be interested in attending as well.

 

Delta Group Electronics Hosts IPC Video Productions

Delta Group Electronics in Albuquerque, N.M. recently hosted the production of two new IPC Training Videos: Handling During Electronics Assembly and How to Inspect Electronic Assemblies.

The week-long video shoot was arranged by Delta Group’s Director of Corporate Quality, Tod Cummins. Production coordination was provided by Irene Romero, QA Manager and Master IPC Trainer (MIT).

An additional IPC video, Wire Assembly Terminology Training, was videotaped last year at Delta Group’s facility in Rockledge, Fla. Bill Blinn, manufacturing project lead, provided the production coordination for the wire terminology video, and for segments of another IPC training video, Component Identification.

Tod Cummins commented, “Participating in these efforts has been very exciting and a most welcome experience. It has reinforced the understanding throughout the company of the effort that goes into these videos, garnering a higher respect for the training throughout the employee base. The newer generations coming into the industry are more accustomed to computer-based training and now expect this quality level of training to be provided day one. I see the IPC training videos as a critical piece of the future of electronic manufacturing.”

Delta Group Electronics uses IPC videos as baseline training for both new employees as well as refresher training for seasoned industry veterans. Founded in 1987, Delta Group Electronics Inc. is an electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider with five facilities — servicing the southern portion of United States from coast to coast. More information can be found at www.deltagroupinc.com.

IPC deeply appreciates Delta Group’s contribution to the educational efforts of our industry. Mark Pritchard, director of IPC video training added, “They made us feel completely welcome during production. Everyone we worked with appeared to enjoy their acting experiences. It was a very productive and enjoyable experience for us as well.”

If your company would like to consider hosting the production of an IPC training video, we would welcome your invitation. Contact Mark Pritchard at MarkPritchard@ipc.org.

Mark Pritchard (camera operator), IPC, works with Irene Romero, Delta Group Electronics, on a shot for the new IPC video, Handling During Electronics Assembly.

IPC and AATCC to Host Joint Session at AATCC Committee Meetings

By Chris Jorgensen, director, IPC technology transfer

IPC and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) will host a joint session, Get Hands-On With E-Textiles Standards and Test Methods, Monday, November 12, 3:00-5:00 pm (ET), prior to the AATCC Fall Committee Meetings.

During this session, IPC and AATCC will provide an overview of the standards projects of the IPC D-70 E-Textile Committee and AATCC’s various working groups. You will also learn how IPC and AATCC are working together and how to get involved with our activities.

The forum will include a standards and test methods brainstorming session for you to bring your organization’s ideas, needs and issues that can be resolved through industry standards. Anything is up for debate! IPC and AATCC staff will present your ideas to committee leadership as potential new projects by IPC D-70, AATCC or a joint standard working group.

Unique to any other standards meeting you will attend, AATCC will also have e-textiles materials and testing equipment available for attendees to get a hands-on experience with standards and test methods.

AATCC also invites all IPC D-70 Committee members to attend the RA111, Electronically-Integrated Textiles meeting or any other committee meeting that interests you.

Register for the IPC/AATCC joint session and AATCC committee meetings at https://www.aatcc.org/evnt/meetings/.