Tags: Obama | Manufacturing | Jobs | Economy

Obama's 'Feel-Good' Speeches Won't Spur Manufacturing

By    |   Thursday, 06 March 2014 06:58 AM

If President Barack Obama’s presidential performance was judged solely on his speeches, he’d probably earn an A. If he was judged on his accomplishments after his speeches, he would earn a solid F.

Last week, we heard another “feel-good speech” about establishing manufacturing pods in Chicago, Michigan and North Carolina to help reinvigorate our economy.

While some people applauded, as a manufacturer, I was disheartened that the federal government would direct entrepreneurs where to set up their manufacturing facilities. The last thing we need is more government interference and oversight in decisions that the free market should decide.

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This is another prime example of the president being completely out of touch with the keystones of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs don’t take their direction from the government – they have an inner drive that propels them to take risk and reach for the stars. Entrepreneurs don’t want the government telling them what to do; they want the government to get out of their way. They are ready to succeed or fail, based on their hard work, sacrifice and skills.

I had to wonder why the president chose the three areas he did. Upon further study, two of the areas have had negative growth in manufacturing. Ironically, it is because of policy positions that Obama has cherished for his entire political career that manufacturing has been driven out of places like Chicago and Michigan. It will not only take a change of these policies for manufacturing to return, it will take a change of heart.

I am going to predict right now that Obama’s speech will be forgotten in a month or two and he will move onto other priorities. Meanwhile, unemployed workers in those three areas are going to be relegated to the sidelines and wonder why nothing has happened.

The reality will soon set in that most of them aren’t qualified for today’s skilled manufacturing jobs.

A 2012 survey by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that U.S. manufacturing companies have as many as 600,000 jobs that they cannot find workers with the proper skills to fill.

The survey also found that 5 percent of current manufacturing jobs are unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates, 67 percent of manufacturers have a moderate to severe shortage of qualified workers, and 56 percent expect the shortage to increase in the next three to five years.

I don’t remember the president factoring this data into his pod creation. The problem this nation faces is not a lack of manufacturing facilities, but a lack of workers to make factories viable.

I’ve written before about the need for more young people to weigh their options when they consider a career and the appropriate education. Too many of our college graduates are living unfulfilled lives; living back at home and taking minimum wage jobs.

Savvy young people should be exploring trade and vocational schools, which unlike traditional colleges, allow students to complete a wide variety of courses, many of which are related to their desired jobs.

A trade school offers a highly focused curriculum devoted exclusively to preparing a student for their job of choice. A trade school student will generally earn their degree in a shorter amount of time than in a traditional college and at a much lower cost; and the salaries far exceed many of the jobs college graduates are taking.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Obama was wrong to suggest more manufacturing initiatives. I just think a little due diligence would have shown him that it is far more cost effective and timely to fill the manufacturing jobs that lay vacant, then to artificially create manufacturing hubs that are dependent on government funding and oversight.

Instead of investing in building new plants, invest in the workers that are required to operate these plants.

I hope that the president remembers he gave speech about supporting manufacturing and actually carries through on his promise to create an environment where manufacturing can thrive.

Then in his next speech, I’d like to see him say that he’s cutting taxes, reducing regulations, and investing in training our people for tomorrow’s manufacturing jobs.

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If President Barack Obama's presidential performance was judged solely on his speeches, he'd probably earn an A.If he was judged on his accomplishments after his speeches, he would earn a solid F.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 06:58 AM
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