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“Valve manufacturers are the backbone for many other industries and a bellwether for the economy. It’s great news that so many of our members are increasing their workforces. That means other industries are working too,” said VMA Chairman Mark Cordell, president of Distributed Valves for Cameron Valves & Measurement.

More than half of responding member companies reported their domestic hiring was growing up to 5% this year. Nearly one-fifth expected growth up to 10% and another fifth is planning to grow their ranks up to 16%. Only 3% of valve manufacturers did not expect any growth.

These workforce figures are consistent with the increase in shipments that members anticipated, as reported in VMA’s annual market forecast released earlier this year. The forecast report predicted that shipments for the U.S. industrial valve industry would grow 3% in 2013, increasing to nearly $4.3 billion. The increase would mark the fourth consecutive year of growth following the recession, exceeding the industry’s previous 10-year peak in 2008.

Through the Employment Snapshot survey, VMA estimates that the domestic valve industry (including Canada) employs more than 30,000 people, a 50% increase from a decade ago. Overall, the industry has a seasoned workforce, with employees averaging 13 years of experience and that are 43.3 years old. In addition, 26% of their employees have college degrees, and 33% are considered exempt employees.

Also, a majority of these firms—two-thirds of which are privately held—have international locations and employees and most have plans to grow their international workforce over the next five years. In fact, 30% of these firms expect more than 10% growth in their international workforce over this time period. China was the most frequently cited location of internationally-based employees, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany.

“We are growing and hiring! But the industry is also graying so keeping up with our talent needs will become more and more important for our members. In particular, many members continue to express concern about being able to attract enough young qualified workers and skilled labor such as welders and machinists,” said VMA President William Sandler.

VMA and its members recognized these competitive challenges several years ago. As part of this effort to reach the next generation and generate interest in its careers, VMA established an in-depth valve education program—Valve Ed—in 2009 to attract and train current and future valve employees. Today, the program contains creative components such as Valve Basics in a Box, a “Valve Petting Zoo” and an online Valves & Actuators 101 training course to promote valve literacy and career interest.

To compile its snapshot, VMA surveyed its membership, comprised of nearly 100 North American manufacturers of valves, actuators and controls. These companies account for about 80% of total industrial valve shipments out of U.S. and Canadian facilities. These manufacturing members are joined by suppliers to the industry and distributors/channel partners.

Founded in 1938, the Washington, DC-based Valve Manufacturers Association is celebrating its 75th Anniversary, helping keep a flagship industry growing and competitive. Today, membership in VMA is recognized as the “seal of approval.”

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