What is in this article?:
- To Solve the Skilled Workforce Shortage, Manufacturing Executives Must Respect People Who Work With Their Hands
- Getting a Job in the "Postindustrial Service Economy"
Working with your hands -- whether in highly skilled manufacturing jobs or the trades -- includes a set of skills that should be honored and supported. To recruit the skilled workers they need, manufacturers should recognize that.
But if manufacturers continue to offshore these jobs, my advice to young people is to look to the trades for a high paying, secure job that can't be outsourced.
Over the last 30 years, the public mantra has been that everybody should go to college. The premise was, if you just get a college degree, you would get a job working with your brain rather then your hands.
At the same time, working with your hands had become uncool -- it's beneath smart young college kids. In the early 90s, high schools and grade schools eliminated shop classes. Instead they installed computer labs to prepare the students to be "knowledge workers" in the new "postindustrial service economy.”
But alas, the postindustrial service economy is not providing the family wage jobs, much less the security, that was expected. What the futurists didn’t see coming was the fact that any kind of work that is “rules based” can be digitized into data and transferred overseas via the internet to be done by bright young Asian students for 1/5 the cost.
Alan Blinder, an economist from Princeton, in 2007 published a working paper that estimated that between 22% and 29% of all U.S. jobs were potentially offshorable.
Another study by Ashok Deo Bardhan and Cynthia A. Kroll at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that up to 14 million Americans now work in occupations that could reasonably be considered "at risk" for offshoring. These jobs include software programmers, radiologists, financial analysts, medical technicians, paralegals, and computer and math professionals.
A significant amount of evidence indicates that these jobs are leaving the country. Whether it will be 29% of all jobs is unknown, but a significant number of white collar “knowledge worker" jobs that were previously held by two-year and four-year college graduates are likely to go offshore.
Similarly, the manufacturing part of the economy also has been losing blue- and white-collar jobs. In this new digital age, large companies now have the power to source work from anywhere in the world and to relentlessly drive down labor costs. As a result, over the last 30 years, middle-class wages and living standards have been driven down.
In fact, many of the careers requiring advanced skills and journeyman status are going to become more and more in demand.
It appears that the postindustrial service economy may not be the answer for most people who want to start a family, have a satisfying job, and carve out their small piece of the American Dream.
Despite the offshoring of millions of jobs, there still are opportunities in manufacturing. Indeed, manufacturers are now in a jam because they have not trained the high-skilled workers they need and their baby boomer employees are retiring. They no longer need low-skilled workers; they need highly skilled people who have journeyman credentials such as in tool and die, mould making, and advanced machining, which are becoming lost arts in the U.S. Since many of the factories are highly automated, they also need people with the skills to operate, repair, maintain and troubleshoot the automated production lines.
These journeyman-type skills can only come from an apprentice program that takes thousands of hours to complete. As long as the company keeps the production line in the U.S., they will need these advanced-skill workers.
In fact, many of the careers requiring advanced skills and journeyman status are going to become more and more in demand. But so far corporations have been unwilling to fund the extensive training required to fill these jobs.