This past summer I wrote a post titled, “Reindustrialization of America?” where I said that America had lost its ability to manufacture most things as efficiently as off-shore manufacturers.
I also pointed out that America’s education system no longer trained “manufacturing” engineers, or even encouraged young people to think about how to “build” things (other than their own portfolios).
Now, I recently watched an interview that Brian Williams of NBC did with Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, where Cook said they were trying to bring one of their product lines back to America to be assembled.
When Williams asked about the higher cost of manufacturing in the U.S., Cook said it wasn’t a matter of cost as much as it was the scarcity of people who knew how to manufacture things in America.
The men and women who made America the greatest industrialized nation in the world are all gone—and no one is being trained to take their place.
However—There Could Be A Solution!
Back in the days of “industrial” America, General Motors had a 5-year work-study degree program to develop their own engineering talent pool. After graduation over two-thirds of the graduates took full-time jobs with General Motors. This was one of the contributing factors to GM’s success at the time.
Ford Motor Company had a similar program for training tradesmen, i.e., machinists, die-makers, tooling experts, etc.
Many other programs supporting industrialized America were also active throughout the country.
All of that is gone now—along with the industrial might of the U.S.
So . . . . Here’s an Idea!
Why don’t the movers and shakers of today’s high-tech America start their own “Silicon University” to train not only the engineers who design products, but more specifically, the manufacturing engineers who actually create the factories, processes, and tools to build those products in the United States?
I wonder how many other companies in the U.S. would build some—or all—of their products in the U.S. if the capability was here today instead of offshore?
What does everyone think—could America once again become an industrial leader in the world if we just set our collective minds to it?
I have pointed out on this blog from time-to-time that the U.S. is rapidly falling behind the rest of the world in new technology and new product innovation. Every year it seems that we fall one or two places further behind while other nations are rapidly rising. Why is that?
I have also taken the position that the main reason the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world is because we are not educating our young people. Why are the school kids in the U.S. only 17th in the world in science proficiency? Or worse yet…why are we only 25th in the world in math proficiency?
Why should this even matter? Well, I believe that, as a result of a dearth of young scientists and engineers, we are no longer technology leaders in the world, and that is impacting our economy, our society, and our standard of living. So, what can we, as a nation, or especially as a private citizen, do about it?
Here is what one nation has done. Finland decided to change from an agriculture based country to a technology based country, and they started by educating their young people. That is the reason Finland is now 1st in the world in science, and 1st in the world in math. For a closer look at this effort by the Finnish people, take a look at a Brian Williams spot on NBC Nightly News that played last week. It is a real eye opener.
(email subscribers need to view on my blog)
Points to consider about Finland’s education system:
- Teachers are considered Professionals—the same as doctors and lawyers. Finnish teachers come from the top 10% of their class, while 47% of America’s teachers come from the bottom third.
- Teachers in Finnish schools must prove they have a strong commitment to the teaching profession. They also must have a Masters Degree.
- Education is of National importance.
- Parents are heavily involved in seeing that their children get an education.
- The national dropout rate in Finland is 2%. In the U.S. it is 25%.
- The Finnish culture “values” education. The average student speaks 4 languages, including English.
Here’s a couple of things I found to be of special interest from watching this video clip:
1) I watched it several times, but I did not see a single cell phone, or text-messaging student, even though Finland’s mobile phone service is many times better than the U.S.
2) All of this attention on education should be very expensive…right? Well, the cost of education in Finland is $3,000 dollars per child per year less than in the U.S.
So, what is the answer for America? Should we make education a national priority? Should we turn the schools back to the teachers? Do we have too many “administrators?” Do we have the right structure in place for overseeing our schools? I have many more questions, but one person’s opinion is not going to make any difference…the important thing is: What does America think about education? What do you think about education in the U.S.? Many of us would like to know.
In terms of the percentage of young people with college degrees, the U.S. has dropped from number 1 to number 12 among 36 developed nations. We decry the dwindling of the middle class, but ignore the fact that today, education is the foundation of the middle class.
I read recently that in the U.S. a child drops out of high school every 26 seconds. Moreover, a report from the College Board indicates that today’s younger generation will not be as well educated as their parents.
Hard-won excellence is no longer a term being used by younger generations, so I guess it should be no surprise that our cultural heroes of the day are people like Lady Gaga and Snooki.
As the older generations retire and head into the sunset, we have to rely on the younger generations to take over and raise our country’s standing in the world. Of course we have some exceptionally talented young people in America, but they are far too few in number…and becoming the exception instead of the rule.
Unfortunately, we are becoming so inured by an ever-growing army of jobless workers; two exorbitantly expensive wars; a broken public education system; decadent economic inequality; big-money control of government; the deficit; etc.—that our nation is more concerned with the antics of Lindsey Lohan, Tiger Woods, et.al. than we are with the future of our country.
Our society seems to be holding intellectual capabilities in contempt, and is more interested in hip-hop and reality shows than in educating our children.
The U.S. ranks behind Canada, South Korea, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Iceland, Norway, Israel, France, Belgium, and Australia in the percentage of 25 to 35 year-olds with a college degree. If this trend continues, America will become a lesser and lesser player in the fraternity of industrialized nations.
If the U.S. does not get our educational system fixed, and fixed soon, future generations will be living off the handouts from more advanced countries—which will be almost everyone else.
Washington—are you listening?
It is interesting, and also sad, to watch the public fury unfold against the big bailouts, especially the AIG scandals…while an even bigger scandal goes unchecked in our own neighborhoods every day.
What is this scandal?
Author, blogger, & Political Commentator, Keli Goff recently published an article in the Huffington Post describing the costly scandal of the high school dropout. In her article she points out that:
- A 2008 study found that high school dropouts cost the American public more than $100 million per year.
- A 2009 study found that one high school dropout in Ohio will cost the state’s taxpayers $200,000 from the time they drop out until they reach age 65.
- Every 29 seconds another American student becomes a dropout. (How many kids dropped out while you were reading your email today?)
- Four out of every 10 young adults (age 16-24) lacking a high school diploma received some type of government assistance in 2001.
- A dropout is more than eight times as likely to be in jail or prison, as a person with at least a high school diploma.
So, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year supporting high school dropouts without batting an eye–but we turn out with protests, signs, and marching, when AIG does something stupid.
Even worse than the high cost of our high school dropouts, is how this situation is contributing to the downfall of the United States as the world leader in Innovation. We are losing our best young minds because our educational system is broken and needs to be totally restructured. Trying to prepare students just to score high on their SAT tests no longer works.
Our educational system needs to teach and encourage young minds how to dream, how to visualize, how to question, how to search…and they need to know it is ok to try something and fail. Unless we start to teach “outside the lines” we will continue to lose brilliant young minds that could make a difference in America’s future.
Of course, we cannot put this entire burden on teachers–we need mentors, sponsors, participating businesses, civic leaders, and the like. When school lets out is not when education stops–life is what happens after classes, and it is up to all of us to make sure every young person in our community learns how to use that time to make the best life.
America is no longer the Innovation leader of the world, and I am afraid if we don’t change the way we educate our young people, we will never regain that role.
Any agreement or disagreement–or, is everyone still too worked up over the bailouts and executive parties?