Looking Up, Out and Ahead
After three years of doom and gloom, especially in manufacturing, the economic picture may finally be brightening. Recent reports point to growth for U.S. manufacturers. While the data aren’t broken down to the functional level, they bode well for quality professionals.
For example, the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, released as this issue goes to press, shows the hiring pace for the fourth quarter remaining consistent with that of the past two quarters, including in manufacturing. “Optimism among durable and nondurable goods manufacturers has been mounting throughout 2004,” said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chair and CEO of Manpower. To view the survey, go to www.manpower.com/meos.
Another upbeat note comes from the Industry Week/Manufacturing Performance Institute 2004 Census of Manufacturers, a survey of 681 plants conducted in April and May. A majority—79.6%—expect increased revenues for the year, while 60.9% forecast employment levels to rise. Read the report at www.industryweek.com/currentarticles/asp/articles.asp?articleid=1666.
Though anecdotal, further evidence of an uptick may come from the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) held every two years in Chicago. I attended IMTS 2004 last month and noted all halls and corridors were packed by midmorning, which I don’t recall from two years ago. Recorded attendance through five days of the show (including a slow weekend) was 81,867, with three weekdays left to go at press time. I project attendee numbers will easily surpass the 85,000 total from 2002.
Does all this positive news mean quality practitioners in manufacturing—or any sector—are home free? Probably not. No matter how much the economy may be improving, nearly everyone agrees the world has changed and will continue to change—and to survive, you have to adjust with it. This issue’s articles are geared to help, starting with a hard look at skills you’ll need to stay employable (p. 22) and ending with a list of colleges and universities offering courses and programs to help you acquire such skills (p. 48).
Inherent in this economic outlook is globalization, now a fact of life. For several years ASQ and QP have strived to reach beyond the “American” in the Society’s name and discuss quality as it’s practiced around the world.
In June 1998, QP began a department called “World View,” edited by Ron Kenett and Spencer Graves. Thanks to their help, over the past six years articles such as the one on p. 59 (examining quality challenges faced by global organizations) have become mainstays of QP’s content. These articles are so standard they are now presented as regular features rather than part of a separate department. Ron and Spencer continue to review similar articles. Our deepest appreciation goes to them for expanding our view of quality out to all points of the globe.