July was a fun, productive month for IPC on the government relations front. Most notably, IPC’s workforce development efforts were recognized at the White House in Washington and on a factory floor in Michigan. On another front, we’ve launched an online platform that makes it easier for our members to contact their elected officials, and we’re using it to seek more R&D funding for an important industry project.
Trump Administration Praises IPC, Members on Workforce Efforts
Last week, a group of IPC member companies was invited to take part in a White House event marking the first anniversary of President Trump’s Executive Order to develop a national strategy to expand the skilled workforce. The event was a chance to celebrate the progress made under the executive order and the Pledge to America’s Workers , which called on private-sector companies to increase their workforce upskilling efforts.
Last October, IPC joined the President’s call by taking the opportunity to review its education programs and seeking ways to grow and innovate. IPC then launched its Workforce Champions Program , pledging to create at least 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities over the next five years. Since then, IPC has made unprecedented, multi-million-dollar investments in its already-extensive educational programs, including:
- Training and valuable certifications for adult workers
- New university chapters and electronics courses
- New curricula and outreach aimed at students in middle and high school
- Establishing the IPC Education Foundation , which prepares students for rewarding careers by supplying learning opportunities focused on electronics manufacturing and improving the perception of manufacturing as a stable and well-paid sector
To recognize the industry for its efforts, employees and executives from four IPC member companies were invited to last week’s White House event: Calumet Electronics of Calumet, Michigan; STI Electronics of Madison, Alabama; TTM Technologies of Santa Ana, California; and Zentech Manufacturing of Baltimore, Maryland.
Audra Thurston, a 23-year-old employee of Calumet, was a great spokesperson for our industry and had the chance to share her story during the White House event. In the months since Calumet joined in the President’s pledge, Thurston attended a class on PCB manufacturing at Michigan Technological University where IPC, with the help of Calumet, has formed a student chapter with more than 20 students. She also works with a team that is developing an advanced microelectronics capability that would help the company compete more aggressively in markets around the world. You can watch a playback of the event  or read a post-event interview with Thurston . IPC also scored a local TV news report , a local newspaper article , and an op-ed by IPC’s John Mitchell .
Before the event, Chris Pilkerton, Acting Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), visited the Calumet Electronics factory in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula region to walk the factory floor and learn about the manufacturing process for printed circuit boards (PCBs) used in aerospace, defense, power grid, medical, industrial controls, and other commercial products . Pilkerton also took part in a roundtable discussion with IPC and others at Michigan Tech on workforce issues that affect the U.S. electronics industrial base.
IPC Launches New Action Center
Meanwhile, IPC has launched a new online platform  that enables our members to reach out to their elected officials on the issues that matter most to our industry. Our current advocacy campaign focuses on securing funding in the U.S. Defense Department’s fiscal 2020 budget for R&D into the performance and reliability of lead-free electronics in the aerospace, defense, and high-performance (ADHP) sectors. The U.S. House of Representatives called for such funding in June , and now the action is shifting to the U.S. Senate.
Investing in lead-free electronics R&D would help alleviate a critical supply chain issue in the defense industrial base since most commercial electronics and cutting-edge systems are based on lead-free designs. DoD budget cuts within the last decade blocked a “Lead-Free Manhattan Project” from being completed, although some companies and universities continued to work on portions of the overall effort. IPC and its allies are working to revive and complete this important R&D project. You can read this article  to get up to speed on the issue and visit our Action Center to ask your senators to support this funding .
We Invite Your Input and Participation!
IPC’s success depends in large part on the guidance and support we receive from IPC members. If you’re a member of IPC and want to be in the loop on our government relations activities, you can opt in to receive advocacy updates. If you are not an IPC member (or you’re not sure), please send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org, and our staff will add you to our email list.
See you here again next month!
Connect With Us
- The White House, “Pledge to America’s Workers.”
- IPC, “Join IPC’s Workforce Champions.”
- IPC, “IPC Education Foundation.”
- The White House, “President Trump Participates in the Pledge to America’s Workers: One-Year Celebration.”
- A. Maass, “Michigan Engineer Speaks at White House American Workers Event,” Gray DC, July 25, 2019.
- K. Griffith, “Pres. Trump’s Small Business Administrator Visits Calumet,” UP Matters, July 23, 2019.
- G. Neese, “Cabinet Member Visits Calumet Electronics,” Mining Gazette, July 24, 2019.
- J. Mitchell, “In Strong U.S. Economy, Credentialing and Training Programs in Manufacturing Are Crucial,” Morning Consult, July 25, 2019.
- IPC, “U.S. SBA Chief Praises IPC Member Calumet Electronics,” July 23, 2019.
- IPC Advocacy Team, “HELP: Urge Your Senators to Back Funding for Lead-Free Electronics R&D.”
- IPC, “U.S. House Approves Measure to Promote Lead-Free R&D in Milaero, Automotive, Medical,”
- C. Mitchell, “IPC Working to Revive Lead-Free R&D in High-Reliability Sectors.”