The Hard Side Of The New Economy

Published: Saturday, 23 February 2013 15:34
Written by Don Musilli

Why Are Jobs Hard To Find?


I have been using the word "transition" opposed to the overused word "recession" to describe the new economic position the US and most of the world now finds itself. In 2006 I sold my business that was started in 1985 because I saw something happening that convinced me the business world in the US was about to take a dramatic turn for the worse. 

Many of the major US companies shipped their manufacturing, design, R&D and engineering departments to their overseas operations or to China and India. This allowed them to continue to increase their profits while cutting down on operating costs. Even though the economy slowed down from 2006 to 2011 innovation did not stop. It just happened to be coming from outside the US and that was quite alright for the US companies.

As the middle of 2012 came into view it was obvious that much of the cost savings innovation enjoyed by using the overseas operations was beginning to wane. Bringing some of the manufacturing and design operations back to the US seemed like the best idea and it was politically correct. The only problem was much of the younger generation was hooked on soft technology and had little or no experience in developing or working with machines to develop hard technology. In addition, the advent of the smart phone, tablet, etc. etc. put all the knowledge of the world at their fingertips and they were enthraled with the fact that they could develop an App or software package without leaving the confines of their bedrooms. Who wanted to work in a factory and actually make something?

The school systems had long abandoned the trade school programs and instead focused on everyone getting a college degree...not matter what the  discipline. Corporations had retired most of their senior level managers and/or they were forced out on early retirements. Thus leaving companies with little of the knowledge they used to get them to the point they are today.

The colleges did turn out many more well educated students, unfortunately they were not trained to help these companies in this new, ever changing, highly competitive hard technology driven world. Too many MBA's with litte or no experience and very few students studying engineering,  science, math or chemisty. Even fewer taking any advanced manufacturing courses primarly because most universities did not have professors to teach those types of subject matter.

Now we have a younger society that has a complete understanding of how to use a smart phone, app, text, write html, Skype and update their LinkedIn and Facebook accounts but no real understanding of how to actually make something. And companies are complaining they can't find the engineers and scientists they need to compete in this new economy. 

I have had the opportunity to meet a number of young entrtpreneurs through EIC and they all have the same challenges. Finding someone to build their products or help them design their products or just help them understand how they can improve their product ideas. Give them a computer or tablet or smart phone and they can talk to someone half way around the world. Give them a saw and they will cut themselves.