Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Loss of Manufacturing Jobs–A Continuing Debate

Not only in America do politicians campaign on the ground of a loss of manufacturing jobs to China, but also in Europe and especially in Germany this is a hot topic.

And I have to say: Wtf, I can’t hear it anymore. What do you want to get back to? Manually blow glass for light bulbs?

First, those people wishing for it and indeed talking about it have probably never held a job in manufacturing. It is a boring, repetitive job that is on top of it not even good for your health.

I have been working on CNC cutting machines (turning, milling and others), I have been working on manual assembly lines. These are jobs that will kill your spirit after a year. These are jobs that even when the operators make smart choices and shuffle people around after a while for a new experience are still mostly dull and repetitive.

You want those jobs back? Sitting hunched over a moving line and putting springs, flanges, bolts and plates into a negative mask? Really?

I think there is some unwarranted romanticism going on. Many people only do this kind of jobs, because there are none other available for them, which aren’t BECAUSE the capital is already sunk into those machines and processes.

There jobs in manufacturing companies that are worth having here, but those are not manufacturing jobs. Those are jobs in HR, in Sales, in Acquisition. Those are jobs as a repair man, as a nc programmer, as a test engineer, as a design engineer or a quality assurance person. These are the jobs that are not that mind numbing and which are worth saving.

But to save a job like a machine operator is pretty much stupid. It is as if we should abolish e-mail in favor of good old post office letter sending. And who in their right mind would want that?

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