Policy driven economy #1

Guess I’ll simply number them rather than attempt pithy titles!!

Manufacturing enters a new ages

Nearly 38,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky over the past 10 years, but this industry is far from dying.

Across Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, manufacturers are producing airplane parts, vinyl windows, prefab bridges, burial caskets and movie-theater popcorn machines. Employment is starting to creep back up, with 5,000 more jobs this year over last. Employers are promoting high-tech positions that can pay up to $25 an hour, with excellent fringe benefits.

This Labor Day weekend, manufacturers say their main challenge is not a loss of work, but finding sufficient new workers with specialized, high-tech skills. Unless significant gains are made, the industry that helped build the Midwest faces a future labor shortage caused by the exodus of aging employees and an outdated image of unskilled factory work.

“The message we’re hearing is that in three to five years, manufacturers here may not be able to find the people they need to be successful,” says Ross Meyer, executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Workforce Network, a 2-year-old partnership of employers, agencies and educational institutions formed to improve coordination between the skills workers have and the skills employers need.

Why can’t they find the people they need?  Policy.

For years and years, high school students have been pushed away from career/technical training and into college preparatory tracks.

Since the 1970s, parents have been told that a university degree — and the entry it affords into the so-called knowledge economy — was the only track to a financially secure profession. But all of the skilled trades offer a career path with an almost assured income, Joerres said, and make it possible to open one’s own business.

A poll of 15-year-olds by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found only one in 10 American teenagers see themselves in a blue-collar job at age 30. The proportion was even lower in Japan.

Education could address that stigma. Students should be reminded that blue-collar work can be lucrative: skilled plumbers can make upwards of $75,000 a year, Manpower argues.

But it will never happen.  Policy makers decided, rather than the market, that high schools should be college prep mills.

Bad policy, more broken windows.  Ignore market forces, or worse, force the market to go directions it otherwise would not.  We end up with millions of people prepared to do nothing valuable, and terribly overqualified to do what they actually will be doing.  Worse than that, millions more forced away from paths that would be of value to them, and employers.

None of this is market driven in any way.  It is just one example of a policy driven economy.


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