The office of Donald Trump, as well as millions of blue collar workers across the country, are screaming for a revival of the blue collar job force. Families that have worked in industry for generations are seeing their local plants and mines shut down en masse, and they’re angry– rightfully so, I might add.
Trump and his cabinet have now officially proclaimed their intent to bring back manufacturing jobs and revitalize the coal industry. A move such as this would help all of those pissed off heartland Americans who feel their voices are going ignored and their struggles discounted.
Well, not really.
The reason that the United States has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 has very little to do with international trade deals, and very much to do with the pending obsolescence of those very jobs.
The first industrial revolution boasted a great American progress. Manufacturing was the newest industry, and human labor was the latest technology. American factories employed the vast majority of the urban population– a tradition to be clung to for the next 100 years in the United States.
It could be asserted that the second industrial revolution is already well underway, as conservative projections land the portion of manufacturing tasks performed by robots at 25% by 2025. Growing automation in manufacturing has largely made human employees outmoded. Why hire 100 men to do the work that 15 robots could do faster and with less error? From a business standpoint, it only makes sense to carry out all manufacturing automatically– a fact of which Donald Trump, a businessman, should be well aware.
That’s not to say that Trump’s administration won’t create new manufacturing jobs for Americans, because they very well may. To create manual manufacturing jobs, however, is only putting a band-aid on the employment problem.
A sustainable, long term plan would include affordable tech education– be it certificates or college degrees– that would allow those robbed of their manufacturing jobs to learn the new trade.
Maybe it’s time for a new revolution, wherein American workers are leading in tech development rather than being robbed of their jobs by that very tech.
The bottom line is that somebody, somewhere is going to be developing this new technology. If the American people and government refuse to adapt, it is almost guaranteed that we as a nation will be left behind as the rest of the developed world progresses.