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Manufacturing a Future

Much has been made of manufacturing outsourcing in the last twenty years, and the discussions persist. Should companies continue to manufacture domestically or do we outsource and retrain the workers for a different industry?

Gary Shapiro wrote an interesting article today in Forbes that beautifully applies this discussion to the recent challenge by President Obama for increased innovation.

Shapiro argues that Americans need to leave inefficient occupations that have defined our past in the past, and instead focus on innovating for the future. He points out that industries like the auto industry, those that have defined the American economy for so long, are in fact products of startups and innovations.

Americans need to be prepared to go to battle for the jobs of tomorrow, so we need to be a progressive nation when it comes to jobs. If we continue to hold onto manufacturing jobs, aside from maintaining inefficient industries, the American work force will move further away from the education levels needed to be relevant to the more advanced, and higher paying, jobs.

What has defined the economy in the past? What has carried us through the century into a world super power? It was the auto industry. The aviation industry. The financial industry. The computer industry. Industries that have been made in America and we know them best because we worked with them since their conception. This concept is even more applicable when it comes to jobs that require advanced training and technical knowledge.

Even more importantly, if we can retrain these workers into more cerebral jobs that require advanced understanding, the children of these workers are more likely to grow up acclimated to being around complex fields. Workers that are challenged and continue thinking about potential solutions at home are more likely to talk about it with their spouse and family. They will talk about computer programming, or working in a laboratory, or whatever it may be. And eventually, over time, the kids may start participating in the conversations. Let’s be realistic, this isn’t retraining to become a monster truck driver. Are moody kids still going to act bored to death during dinner table conversations about “how their day went”? You betcha! Parents talking about a more mentally challenging job isn’t going to make an eight-year-old suddenly care any more than before, but it will create an expectation of hearing their parents taking on challenging problems at work that involve complex concepts. And that is something that will absolutely help equip America to take on the challenges of the future.

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