Mixed Message on Manufacturing

Make: an American Manufacturing Movement is a new report from the Council on Competitiveness that indicates policymakers are receiving vastly conflicting reports on the state of U.S. manufacturing. In addition, it prescribes five "solutions" to help keep the U.S. on top.

The State Science & Technology Institute offers the following:

Policymakers, the report’s authors contend, are bombarded with widely available reports and analysis that support one of three conflicting views (it is on steep decline, doing reasonably well or it is poised for growth) on the health and importance of U.S. manufacturing.

"In reality, elements of all three perspectives are likely true," according to the authors. U.S. manufacturing remains the world’s top producer and an important part of the U.S. economy — employing more than 11 million and contributing more than $1.7 trillion to the economy. However, emerging economies are increasingly becoming a threat to U.S. competitiveness. Going forward, the U.S has the potential to capitalize on emerging marketplaces, but to achieve this the U.S. must find solutions to the challenges it faces.

The report provides five "solutions" to maintain the nation’s status as the world’s top producer, resolve its manufacturing challenges and capitalize on growing international demand:

  • Enact fiscal reform, transform tax laws, regulations and other structural costs to spur investment, ramp up production, capitalize growth companies and create skilled jobs

  • Create fair and open global markets for U.S. goods and services to reduce the trade deficit and increase exports as a percentage of gross domestic product

  • Prepare the next generation of innovators, researchers and highly-skilled workers

  • Create national advanced manufacturing networks and partnerships, prioritize R&D investments and deploy new tools, technologies and facilities

  • Develop and deploy smart, sustainable and resilient energy, transportation, production and cyber infrastructures 

Competing in the Manufacturing World

I see this phrase or a version of it often and use it myself occasionally: "In Indiana, we make things."

With that being the case, we (Indiana and the U.S.) need to be the best in the manufacturing business. According to a recent report from the Council on Competitiveness and Deloitte, it takes innovation and advanced skills development on one side of the equation complemented by research, technology and full commercialization.

The 16-page report is Ignite 2.0: Voices of American University Presidents and National Lab Directors on Manufacturing Competiveness. Five goals are outlined for colleges, universities and the national labs:

  • Continue to support the community colleges and universities though long-term government programs

  • Utilize community college more effectively to develop a skilled S&T workforce

  • Create conduits that connect talent and ideas at universities with the private sector and the local community in regional clusters

  • Implement university programs in math, science and manufacturing

  • Ensure that national laboratories develop mission-driven innovations and broaden the definition of national interests to include impactful economic development

The report also provides several recommendations to build a 21st century advanced manufacturing workforce and to fuel science, technology and innovation. In the coming months, the council is expected to release Ignite 3.0, which will highlight the perspectives of U.S. labor leaders.