Are you wondering what happened to American jobs? Ever wonder why corporations are sending jobs off shore? Do you wonder what the new economy is going to look like for the next ten years? Here is a hint – the game has completely changed.
We tend to look at our government for fixes when our unemployment numbers jump. What if the game changed so much it is beyond the government and we need to get a different approach to working as a country?
Above is a video of a 30 story hotel being built in 15 days in China. Not framed, but fully built. The video is fascinating with how the construction is solid enough to withstand a 9.0 earthquake, no workers lost a day due to an injury, and this process can be readily repeated.
How long would this take in America? This is an example of how the game has changed and as Americans we need to be thinking of how we are going to elevate our work ethic to compete on this scale.
Why Apple manufactures in China
Last February President Obama asked Steve Jobs directly how Apple could return jobs to America. Obviously, the initial response was the cheaper cost of labor overseas but that is no longer the defining factor. Companies like Apple are not just going overseas for factory work because it is cheaper. They like it because overseas factories are more flexible, responsive and work ready.
To quote an article in the New York Times, “Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products.”
When Apple redesigned the screen at the last minute for the iPhone it required a complete overhaul of the assembly line. Once the change order was received in the China facility a foreman immediately awoke 8,000 employees sleeping inside company dormitories and they quickly started a 12 hour shift to get the changes completed as fast as possible.
Can you imagine this happening in the US? Not only is the worker attitude different but the immensity of the manufacturing complexes are different as well. Apple iPhone are assembled in in place called Foxconn City where the facility employs a staggering 230,000 workers, one quarter of which live in company barracks. This is unimaginable in the United States! Nothing has ever been done in this country to approximate such a facility.
Forget wages for a minute – tell me a place in America where a company can build a factory and get thousands of people to be awakened bu a supervisor to suddenly work twelve hour shifts and live in company barracks?
This is the shift in global competition. A large number of employees willing to work for lower pay than Americans, with a more disciplined work ethic and are readily available. Combine that with a greater focus on shareholder equity over employee generosity by corporations and the foundation of the New Economy is set.
The big question facing the American worker is — Do we fight the global change of what work means or do we get with competing in the new economy?
In the 70’s American auto makers fought the global change in their industry by trying to get the government to stop “the unfair advantage” of foreign imports. The fight was lost and eventually American car makers had to compete on quality and price in a global market place. GM filing for bankruptcy protection tells us they still are struggling to compete and fully accept the changes of their industry in large part to worker resistance.
What can we do to competitive in the global economy?
It begins with a realization the game of business has changed and we have to change to compete in the new economy. This is probably the hardest step people can make, and the most crucial.
Watch this video on what is being done in construction. Think about what a factory of 230,000 people must look like and can accomplish. Then, talk with your staff, co-workers and children about work ethic, job choices and what they can do to get with the new future. Whether you work in the service industry, the finance industry, food service, or what’s left of manufacturing in this country; the last thing we need to do is wait on our government to “fix” the situation. It’s time to take the reality check and learn the new rules for the new game that is the new economy.
Companies are built and stay competitive on profit and innovation – regardless where in the world that comes from. That will not change. Global success is predicated on those core beliefs of an organization.
It is up to Americans to find the best way to compete in the New Economy, and that starts by looking in the mirror and determining if your own work ethic can compete in the New Economy.