Proos: Tool and die industry flourishing in Michigan

Published 9:37 am Tuesday, January 19, 2016

LANSING — Michigan’s tool and die industry is growing and creating jobs as it tries to keep up with increased demand, said Sen. John Proos, vice chair of the Legislative Auto Caucus.

“The tool and die industry is a tremendously important part of the economy in southwest Michigan and the entire state,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “As the North American International Auto Show in Detroit opens up to the public this weekend, it is important to remember that the new car models being unveiled are a driving force in the growth in the tool and die industry.”

According to the president of the Center for Automotive Research, automakers require tool and die work two or more years in advance of a vehicle making it into production. The health of the tool and die industry can help analysts predict what lies ahead for the automobile industry.

“The fact that this industry is flourishing right now is great news for Michigan workers and for our state economy,” Proos said. “Michigan ranks first in the nation in the number of people working in tool and die jobs. Although the industry is growing and offering high-paying jobs, growth in the industry is being limited due to a lack of skilled toolmakers.

“Southwest Michigan manufacturers have told me they are finding it increasingly difficult to find young people with the technical skills needed for available jobs. That is part of the reason I have led the effort to increase career and technical education opportunities in our state.”

Matt Tyler, CEO of Vickers Engineering in Niles, testified in support of Proos’ legislation.

“Manufacturing is back in Michigan, and we need to be able to compete with states like Indiana and Kentucky,” Tyler said. “These are not ‘button-pusher’ jobs; these are careers in automation.”

Proos said that the success of the state’s tool and die industry illustrates the need to continue proactive policies that attract job creators to Michigan and highlights the importance of supporting the skills and career training necessary to help close the gap between the jobs that exist today and the available workforce.