Wanted: Talent-Driven Innovation

While we’re on the subject of talent and the importance thereof to a successful Supply Management organization, a topic that we will address further in the weeks to come, it is fruitful to point out a recent article over on Industry Week by Stephen Gold, the CEO of Manufacturers Alliance, who asks a very important question:

      Can the United States meet the challenge of creating the skilled workforce needed for manufacturing leadership?

After all, if we are going to homeshore and bring jobs back, due to the rising transportation and labour costs in the developing world, as well as the considerable overhead imposed by various import and security laws, we need a workforce that can handle them. And considering that the manufacturing workforce has declined 40% over the last 20 years, it could be difficult to bump it back up quickly given the skills required for your average production line these days.

Given that the #1 driver of competitiveness is talent-driven innovation, if the US can’t step up its game, the emerging markets may take the lead. Especially given that countries such as Germany, China and India have done far more in recent years to encourage innovation (and in turn build vibrant manufacturing bases) in their own backyards than the US has done. And given that high-skill employment has risen 17% while low-skill employment has dropped 9%, there is a double challenge to be faced. Furthermore, with the recent de-emphasis of math and science in primary and secondary schools, and the corresponding decline in math, science, and engineering degrees from 11% to 7%, there is, in actuality, a triple challenge to be faced. (And that’s not considering the fact that a global assessment ranks US students 23rd in science and 30th in math!)

The US may be able to rise to the challenge, but, like Rocky, they’ll have to have the eye of the tiger to do it. What do you think?