How to create a U.S. manufacturing renaissance?...
In the latest issue of GEAR TECHNOLOGY Magazine, editor Jack McGuinn says that U.S. manufacturing faces tough times: "for more than a generation, American manufacturing jobs have disappeared," dropping from 19.5 million in 1979 to 11.7 million today.
What McGuinn finds so worrying is that "what’s missing are more well-paying, family-nurturing, high-skills manufacturing opportunities for American workers of all ages."
Even more problematic is the fact that manufacturing's tenuous state is discouraging young workers from focusing on a potential industrial career. McGuinn says, "Call it a catch-22 or chicken-and-egg dilemma: i.e., no jobs in the offing due to no workers, or no workers due to no available jobs?"
McGuinn interviewed Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) Executive Director Scott Paul on America's failure to sustain its manufacturing base:
“The (reason for the ‘disconnect’) is simple: our trade deficit. We overconsume and under-produce. The past two recessions—2001–2002 and the most recent one—have both exhibited this disconnect. In past recessions we did not run enormous trade deficits, and when consumption picked back up it meant that people were buying American-made goods. That simply is not the case today.
“The skills gap is real,” Paul continues, “but pointing fingers will do no good. Manufacturers—especially those the size of Caterpillar—must be willing to invest more and develop partnerships with high schools and community colleges to help fill the gap. Taxpayers must be willing to invest in education to improve outcomes and opportunities. But let’s also be realistic—as
long as the real money to be made is in finance, and not the productive sector of the economy, that is where the talent will head.”
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