Feb 13, 2017
Speaking with manufacturing executives after the election, their first topic of discussion was not protection from imports but access to engineers. For American manufacturing to thrive, products must be invented and production methods optimized. That means engineers.
For every engineer working in manufacturing there are 20 other jobs, according to the federal government’s tally of employees by occupation. Engineering is largely complementary to production and maintenance jobs, which account for a majority of factory employees. That is, availability of one type of worker spurs demand for the other type. Engineering can also substitute for production workers, as when an engineer automates a manual function. Generally, though, a limitation on engineers will limit employment of other manufacturing jobs. When engineers are in short supply, a company finds it more advantageous to outsource production or shift activities to a location with a more plentiful supply of engineering talent.
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