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Michele Nash-Hoff, author of Can American Manufacturing be Saved? Why we should and how we can, explains why you should seek work with San Diego’s manufacturing companies.

Please start by telling me a little bit about your background and how you got involved with manufacturing.

I was born in Chicago, IL, but my parents moved to Los Angeles when I was six years old. I grew up in south L.A. County and graduated from Gardena High School. I moved to San Diego right after high school to live with an aunt and started working as soon as I turned 18.

I got my first job at age 18 as secretary to the chief engineer of a small manufacturer making custom fabricated components. I left the company with him and five other men to start a company making an electronic component. Then I worked for five years in the marketing department of a larger defense contractor, Cubic Corporation. I stayed home as a full-time mom for a few years, and then went back to school, graduating from San Diego State University with a degree in French/Spanish. I then got back in the manufacturing industry working for a manufacturer’s rep agency. Three years later, I started my own company, ElectroFab Sales, in 1985.

Can you explain briefly what your book is about?

Can American Manufacturing Be Saved? details how manufacturing developed in America through the industrial revolution and the labor movement. It analyzes the impact and future of outsourcing offshore and our nation’s trade policies, looks at what various organizations are doing to try to help save American manufacturing, and what we can do as individuals from the perspective of business owners, employees, consumers, and voters.

In the book, I argue that we will not be able to save American manufacturing unless we develop a national manufacturing strategy and change our trade policies. I support a “Buy American” policy and recommend preventing the sale of strategic U.S.-owned companies to foreign companies. I also recommend enacting legislation to prevent corporations from avoiding income taxes by incorporating in a foreign country.

Why is this important information for job seekers?

Job seekers need to increase their understanding of the development of manufacturing as an industry and recognize the importance of the manufacturing industry to the economy of the San Diego and the U. S. as a whole. We all need to understand why we have such high unemployment locally, statewide, and nationally. There is a clear relationship between the loss of manufacturing jobs and local, state, and federal budget deficits. And anyone seeking a job in manufacturing especially needs to understand what a manufacturing employer is facing in this world of global competition in order to learn what they can do to make their employer more competitive in the global marketplace.

How does all this impact industries or jobs in San Diego specifically?

The manufacturing industry produces about 15% of this region’s gross regional product and employs over 100,000 people. Jobs in manufacturing pay 25-50% more than jobs in the service industry. Even starting salaries at the low end of the pay scale are $3-4 above minimum wage.

Some of the largest manufacturers in the area are General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc.; Solar Turbines; Nassco/General Dynamics; Goodrich Corporation/Aerostructures Division Viasat, Inc.; and Cubic Corporation.

Can you give me an example of how a person might put some of this information to use in their job search?

It depends on what stage they are in their career. I would advise a person looking for their first job to get into the manufacturing industry at whatever level they can because there is no glass ceiling in the manufacturing industry, especially in sales and marketing. The potential for advancement is high, especially if the person is interested in learning new things on a continual basis.

If a person is making a career transition, then they need to tailor the skills shown on their résumés to fit the desired skill sets needed for jobs in manufacturing.

Do you have any additional advice for San Diego area job seekers?

Yes, sign up for LinkedIn, as this is the new way to network for jobs in the manufacturing industry. If you have any background in sales and marketing, these are the most easily transferable skills for getting into high tech manufacturing companies.

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