We’ve talked a lot about outsourcing and how we can choose to grow our economy once more by bringing crucial production back to our shores, but successfully rebooting our economy with the goal of achieving manufacturing independence will depend entirely on having a qualified and effective labor force as its backbone. That labor force has been rocked by two specific trends in the 20th and 21st centuries that now present a challenge to bolstering our production capabilities within America.
The first trend dates back to the 1930s, starting with the Great Depression. During and after this stock-market-initiated financial crisis — by some measures the most severe and prolonged economic depression in our country’s history — many people were understandably shaken. In particular, parents desperately seeking to push their children up the socioeconomic ladder to avoid the very real threat of financial instability and poverty saw college education as a one-way ticket to improve their prospects. These parents were operating under the assumption that having white-collar jobs would inevitably lead their children to better lives. This conscious rejection of “dirty” blue-collar work has created a lingering stigma that persists to this day, leading many to pass up good-paying manufacturing opportunities solely because they lack the “prestige” of white-collar work.
The second and more recent trend relates to the core issue of outsourcing. Because companies decided to save money on the bottom line by shipping manufacturing operations out of America, a number of important facets of our production economy were thrown away and will be difficult for many companies to recreate: training programs, generational expertise, and sense of devotion, commitment, or purpose that was once more common.
As an industry and as a nation — if we are serious about reclaiming manufacturing supremacy at home — we will need to make a conscious effort to address both trends. First, we must communicate to younger generations the reality that manufacturing is a thriving industry that will create well-paid jobs anyone should be proud to do. We must shift the conversation to strip away the “dirty job” stigma from the honest manufacturing work done by blue collar working professionals. After all, succeeding in manufacturing requires real technical qualifications like a practical knowledge of math, physics, computer science and other related STEM fields. This knowledge doesn’t necessarily have to be acquired via college education as post-Great Depression parents might have assumed, either. Going to college isn’t always suitable for every student’s goals and abilities and college often incurs crippling financial burden in the form of student loans. Through trade schools and on-the-job training people can obtain very well paid jobs that can guarantee a good and stable income without mortgaging their future.
Precision Group has always been fully committed to nurturing America’s manufacturing labor force of tomorrow by reaching out to youth and by providing our employees ample opportunity for education. We have been a leading voice for the Fill the Gap initiative, and we are continually expanding our training programs, technological resources and facilities to accommodate up-and-coming talent that will help America return to a position of dominance and independence within the manufacturing sphere. We have been doing our part to make that dream a reality for 35 years, and we believe that as time goes on, the importance of keeping highly qualified manufacturing expertise and operations in America will only become more evident. Until the rest of the industry catches up, we are happy to lead the charge towards self-sufficiency and continue deepening our pool of manufacturing talent.