As noted in our prior post, we were intrigued by comments made by TRENDS, the subscription publishing arm of AudioTech in Willowbrook, IL in a recently published article titled “Advanced Manufacturing: The Key to America’s Innovation Advantage” in December (Vol. 9, No. 12). (www.crucialtrends.com).
Read our first post for the run-up to today’s conclusion, in which we look at what the TRENDS article’s authors say are three key forecast trends for the future of manufacturing employment.
Their first conclusion: “Over the next decade, high schools and universities will redirect their vocational training and guidance efforts away from the liberal arts toward the skills demanded by advanced manufacturing.” Schools will need to make students more aware of the opportunities inherent in the new, advanced manufacturing. Look to Germany’s trade school model for inspiration here – it works for them. Businesses have tremendous stakes in the success of our schools.
Their second conclusion: “Over the next seven or eight years communities will actively encourage ‘high-impact technology clusters’ that will help advanced manufacturing take off.” Innovation thrives when related companies and educational institutions are co-located. Collaborative networks will (in fact, in many areas, already are…) encouraging greater innovation and new forms of technology startups (we’re seeing a Renaissance of idea formation and corresponding startups, even in small towns like our own, in South Bend, Indiana).
Their third conclusion: “In an effort to re-energize the economy, government will play a role in supporting the growth of advanced manufacturing.” We’ll need joint cooperative (government and private sector) collaboration in efforts including development of intellectual property. Just as importantly, we’ll need tax policies that encourage investment in R&D, human capital, IP development and fixed assets. Some of these exist today; more can be done. Policies that reward venture capital will help make the most of this opportunity.
As suppliers of software and consulting to America’s manufacturing and distribution breadbasket, we see on a daily basis the strength and vigor or our small business manufacturing sector. They’re smart, experienced and agile. We can only hope that America’s policies and educational institutions have the same smarts and vigor to keep up with, support, and provide the future talent for these difference-making companies of the 21st century.