In the United States, job creation and the preservation of manufacturing are shaping up to be key issues for 2017. Recent news reports have focused extensively on the rate at which companies are leaving the U.S. in an effort to find a cheaper labor force and lower tax rates abroad. Bloomberg recently published research on some two dozen major corporations that had shifted operations outside the United States between January 2015 and September 2016.
The implosion of the oil and gas sector has been one of the biggest contributors to the manufacturing decline in the U.S. “Globally it’s been largely positive,” Rice University Professor Russell Green said. “But this has had devastating ripple effects across the country.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over five million manufacturing jobs have vanished since 2000.
Making matters more complicated, as manufacturing continues to decline, graduates from U.S. colleges often look to build their careers in the knowledge economy rather than manufacturing. This is creating a serious skills gap, which is, in turn, posing a significant problem for companies that are lucky enough to be in a position to hire skilled workers. As Professor Green notes, “We have a manufacturing gap with over 3,000 jobs, and manufacturing wants to hire people but they can’t, essentially.”
In an effort to correct course and potentially bring about a manufacturing renaissance in America, an esteemed group of influencers from government, academia and industry recently joined Shunichi Miyanaga, President and CEO of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), for an event called Spectra Connects: Call it a Comeback: Initiating the U.S. Manufacturing Renaissance. In addition to Professor Green, Pete Olson, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the state of Texas who currently sits on the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade, joined Miyanaga on stage as did former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and National Council for Advanced Manufacturing (NACFAM) CEO Robert “Rusty” Patterson.