In preparation for my journey to speak to several colleges and universities this fall, I have been busy reading a Peter Drucker book published in 1989 entitled The New Realities. Written more than 20 years ago, it talks about the changes coming to the manufacturing world, with automation, outsourcing, and its impact on production and jobs. In fact, the economic condition we are going through right now should not be a surprise to anyone, as many indicators predicted its coming.
This reminds me of the great Warren G. Bennis quote: “The factory of the future will have only two employees: a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.”
With our current 10 percent unemployment rate, low student test scores, and our country’s lack of concentration in math and sciences, our identity as a country has fundamentally changed.
China is winning the manufacturing game. Sure, we may have increased our manufacturing output, but the machines are doing it.
How, then, do we get ahead as a country?
It takes a team effort - an effort that includes improving education and labor, but also involving parents, businesses, students, the workforce and the government. We also need to make some fundamental changes in our communities.
Instead of lamenting the unemployment rate, the loss of manufacturing plants in our country, or the loss of business to outsourcing overseas, let’s work together to improve our own economic conditions.
Otherwise, we’ll all be competing for that one factory job…