Manufacturing Still Matters

There seems to be a fervor of opinions these days about Trump foisting himself and his administration onto the task of reshaping the advanced manufacturing economy in the United States. This posturing is healthy for a couple reasons beyond the politics, the pros and cons of the economics, trade and tax implications, and even the perceived (and promised) jobs that will result. 
Think about it.

Across the country, today’s recent graduates are once again seeing a positive bent on making it in manufacturing. For decades this industry has taken it on the chin; commonly perceived as a second (or third) rate career alternative for those who can't cut it in college prep. Instead, today’s up-and-coming talent pool are more excited than ever to get a firsthand view of what really happens inside a General Motors Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM) plant or a Battery manufacturer or a food processing facility. Additionally, I suspect these individuals will be quite surprised by how much technology, precision science, and innovation go into deploying the factories of today (and the future). I should know. I have seen hundreds of these operations in my career and always leave with a sense of awe (as well as a new appreciation of how a certain widget or critical component is produced).
Critics speculate Trump’s new “America first” push and tariff penalties will only impact manufacturing in the short term. Ultimately, we will see it fade away again as unskilled manufacturing jobs will be intermediated by automation and technologies like 3D Printing.
I say, do you know how many people it takes to write the software required for a robot on the assembly line? Or how many industrial engineers are necessary to troubleshoot an aseptic process in a food plant to protect the sterility of final product output? What about photonics, sophisticated metal substitutes and the visualization that goes into creating a new component or production line? No, not scores of blue collar workers but an incredible upstream of brain power and “know how” innovation, right here in the U.S. (not somewhere else).
Bringing back manufacturing to the U.S., albeit carefully and with great cognizance of our supply chains and innovation clusters that feed that manufacturing, elevates our entire economy, and challenges us to rethink what true economic value and good skilled jobs really entail.
Robert Hess
Executive Managing Director, GCS

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