U.S. manufacturers need to maintain competitive edge, believes New York congressman

February 11, 2013

U.S. manufacturers need to start making the most of their competitive advantage if the much-vaunted revival is to continue, believes the co-chair of the Manufacturing Caucus.

Speaking on a recent tour of a tool-making facility in Elmira, New York, Congressman Tom Reed was confident that a continued commitment to quality management in manufacturing and the current trend of onshoring among major manufacturers would drive job creation and keep U.S. companies at the forefront of the global market. Reed was recently appointed to the bi-partisan discussion group, which has existed since 2003 as a voice for manufacturing in Washington, D.C.

However, according to the Ithaca Journal, the Congressman warned that U.S. manufacturers need to ensure that recent gains made over competitors in China and the Asia-Pacific region thanks to cheaper energy, enforcement of intellectual property standards and implementation of Six Sigma practices may come under threat, especially if the Red Dragon continues its recent resurgence. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. has been surpassed by China as the number one trading country in the world, with industry analysts anticipating that it could become even stronger in years to come.

“There seems to be a general belief that manufacturing is coming back to the United States’ shores,”said Reed. “That’s a great thing, and there are a lot of things driving that. They want to come back to America, where those intellectual property rights are respected and enforced.”

Reed also believes that the federal government needs to start pushing the benefits of STEM education, with many college graduates opting to move into fields other than manufacturing. This is certainly not a new phenomenon, with U.S. companies voicing their concerns about replacing an aging workforce, while removing the perception that the job remains a blue-collar occupation.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, companies need to “promote manufacturing as an exciting career path,” an employment option that the Obama Administration has thrown its weight behind in recent months. In July of last year, the president’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology presented three recommendations to support advanced manufacturing, which included investment in community colleges and creating partnerships between industry and education.

“Since many experts acknowledge that advanced manufacturing is the best bet for creating high-paying jobs, with the additional advantages of contributing to innovation and reducing the US trade deficit, Mr. Obama would do well to heed the advice of his council, ” noted doctor Suzanne Rosselet, a research fellow at the IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland. “Education and training are critical to providing an appropriately skilled workforce that will ensure long-term sustainable growth and restore the US lead in competitiveness indices.”