During the recession many companies retooled their operations installing more and more automation. Today, there are many (certainly not a total replacement for those 10s of thousands of “old” manufacturing jobs lost) new and highly skilled–and high paying–jobs in the new manufacturing workplace.
The main reason I chose to become a high school teacher after a career in high tech was to help prepare the 21st century workforce to compete in the global economy and recapture some of America’s manufacturing base. According tote Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton,
More than 12 million students are projected to drop out of high school over the next decade; the millions more with diplomas face bleak job prospects. Many young people (and their parents) still assume that the only gateway to good jobs is a four-year college education. But we can learn from Germany, a world leader in technical training, and offer two-year degrees in manufacturing technology, starting the last year of high school and extending a year beyond. This education reconfiguration could solve two problems at once—and strengthen the economy.
I think one reason for the high drop out rate is a belief in “DNA” “Does Not Apply” –that is, there’s so much messaging to high school students about going to college and a lot of kids just don’t see that in their future (I was one of those kids eons ago); college is DNA. So what’s the point of high school?
So, besides revising the ubiquitous messaging that presumes everyone should go to college (are you reading this President Obama?) we should also reinvest in technical training at the high school level for these high tech, high demand manufacturing jobs.