This piece contained two tidbits of data that support what I have been witnessing and harping about to whoever will listen. Without more engineers and engineering technicians, we will not see manufacturing come to the US no matter how cheap or expensive labor gets in other parts of the world. It's not just about cost, it's largely about skills.
The first assertion that Hersher makes is that for every two engineering jobs currently filled in Silicon Valley, there is one job open that can't be filled. That is a shortage of 33% in engineers which results in companies moving jobs to India and China where engineers are available (and, they are probably less costly too).
The second tidbit comes from a report of a meeting between Steve Jobs and President Obama where jobs reported that Apple had 700,000 manufacturing jobs in China because it took 30,000 engineers (really technicians as one reads further) to support those manufacturing jobs and 30,000 technicians could not be found in America.
This report is similar to one that was recently reported to me here in Pennsylvania where a company intended to start up a new manufacturing site employing over 300 people, but moved it elsewhere because they could not find 40 qualified maintenance people.
Industrial maintenance technicians and engineers have tremendous leverage in the workplace. By that I mean that 1 maintenance tech can support 10 manufacturing jobs and 1 manufacturing job can support 7 additional jobs in the supply chain. For every qualified maintenance technician that a school turns out, we can create as many as 70 jobs in our economy. Why then are we not putting more focus on the education of young people for these gold-collar jobs?
Perhaps if we could collect more data, even if anecdotal, we could get more people to react. If you have seen this phenomena at work, share the story with us.