Apple CEO Tim Cook says in a recent interview that Apple plans to build one of its Mac product lines in the United States, rather than in China, in 2013. This is great news for the lucky manufacturer(s) Apple will contract with to do this work. Cook adds that he hopes this move will encourage other companies to bring back more manufacturing jobs to this country.
Skills at Any Cost
The most interesting part of the interview is when Cook notes that the higher cost of labor in the U.S. isn’t the biggest factor that has kept his company from manufacturing more products in its home country. “It’s not so much about price; it’s about the skills,” he says in the interview.
It’s ironic that there is a serious shortage of workers in the manufacturing industry with the necessary skills to handle modern manufacturing processes. The industry has become so technologically advanced in recent years that educators have failed to keep up and give college students the essential skills they need to thrive.
Modern Manufacturing Requires Smarter Manufacturers
Uncertain economic conditions and international competition have forced manufacturers to innovate and find other ways to cut costs in recent years. This has led to increased efficiency, a reduction in the number of workers required to produce the same number of goods, and more skills demanded from the workers who remain.
The manufacturing industry is much more technologically advanced than it was a generation ago. The old stereotype of blue-collar jobs is no longer true. Hopefully workers will be able to break out of the mold, as well, and rise to the challenge of filling these new high-skilled jobs.
It turns out that individuals have a big say in whether or not the U.S. continues to be a manufacturing nation. That’s an encouraging thought as we enter a new year.