Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 6th Dec 2012 17:01 UTC
Apple So, Apple is serious about this thing. Tim Cook has said in an interview the company plans to manufacture one line of Macs in the US, starting next year. Coincidentally (or not?), Foxconn has just announced it plans to expand its production facilities... Into the United States. There's no indication as of yet that the two are linked, but the coincidence is at least interesting.
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by Alfman on Thu 6th Dec 2012 18:53 UTC
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Someone's finally putting all the laid off employees to good use! With Apple's margins, they should be able to afford it without raising prices. We'll see though.

That said, did it bother anyone else that in the interview he said the problem with domestic manufacturing isn't about costs, but lack of skills? Manufacturing companies have been laying off the skilled domestic workforce for years in favor of much cheaper labor.

Edited 2012-12-06 18:54 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Good
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 6th Dec 2012 20:08 UTC in reply to "Good"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

That said, did it bother anyone else that in the interview he said the problem with domestic manufacturing isn't about costs, but lack of skills? Manufacturing companies have been laying off the skilled domestic workforce for years in favor of much cheaper labor.

The layoffs of skilled labor have been going on for years. I'm not sure where they have gone to, but there is a definite lack of them. I'm from a rust belt city and can attest there are job openings for skilled labor: welders, cnc machinists,ect. I think the problem is that very few younger employees wanted to get the skills during the long layoff periods. It didn't look too promising of a career choice. My high school had a work study program where kids could intern at a local factory and learn the skills they needed and start working as a full time employee the day after they graduated. Those programs don't exist anymore.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Good
by Alfman on Thu 6th Dec 2012 21:07 UTC in reply to "RE: Good"
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Yea, I think it's a bit cyclic. Sponsored training is a relic of corporate DNA, the burden has been shifted to candidates as a pre-qualification for landing a job. It hasn't made sense to get trained for manufacturing skills amid the domestic manufacturing downsizes and high risks for being laid off. The remaining workforce is aging and nobody's willing to pay for training new local replacements.

I'm convinced that if you raise the wages and bring back corporate training, then more skilled workers will start to come out of the woodwork. But apparently that's alot to ask when the cost differences between local and offshore labor is still so great. Most multinational corporations will need some additional justification.

Edit: I'm anxious to see what apple does and how good of a model it can be for others. Of course they're particularly wealthy, but with a little luck maybe it can convince others to bring back manufacturing?

I feel terrible when 100% of the stuff in my office is made elsewhere. Not a damn thing gets made here. That's not entirely true, when I last surveyed the pencils were from USA.

Edited 2012-12-06 21:17 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Good
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Thu 6th Dec 2012 21:13 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Good"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

I think we also have to bring back vocational schools. The town's community college used to offer those same skills in classes. Some manufactures would pay for their employees to take certain skills and offer raises after taking them, but they weren't too expensive to pay out of pocket (~ $100).

Reply Score: 3

RE: Good
by sdeber on Mon 10th Dec 2012 10:06 UTC in reply to "Good"
sdeber Member since:

I don't think skills are the key factor to this. It does not need some hard-to-learn skills to manufacture products like Iphone, Ipad, etc. In fact, as far as I know, the training cycle for these Chinese workers is less than 4 weeks, and many of them just keep jumping from one job to another. Rarely someone treat this kind of job as a long term career. The key factor has always been the cost.

Reply Score: 1

by qroon on Thu 6th Dec 2012 20:42 UTC
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But wouldn't Foxconn just bring workers from China?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Workers
by thegman on Fri 7th Dec 2012 19:06 UTC in reply to "Workers"
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Would seem unlikely, first of all, they'd need a visa to work in the USA, which for low-skilled and unskilled work, they're unlikely to get.

Companies can sponsor employees, but the govt wants to see why you're not just employing locals. For doctors and engineers, that's easy, not so much for factory workers.

Reply Score: 1

Devil in the details
by earksiinni on Thu 6th Dec 2012 20:59 UTC
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When Obama once asked Steve Jobs how to bring back manufacturing to the U.S., Jobs said "those jobs are never coming back." More than wage differences, the real reason for the loss of manufacturing* in America is because there aren't enough Americans with the necessary skills nor does the requisite infrastructure exist.

So before we hail this announcement, let's consider one particularly noxious possibility: Foxconn moves its factories and workers to the U.S. AFAIK, to get a work visa the job must be advertised and no qualified American must apply for the job. Companies usually get around this by creating extremely particular job descriptions that match the particular foreign candidate that they've decided to hire beforehand. In the case of Foxconn/a potential wave of consumer tech manufacturing insourcing, who's to say that they won't just bring in tons of Chinese workers, since after all everyone is claiming that there aren't enough Americans to do the job? I don't know about Taiwanese practices/law regarding Taiwanese multinationals, but Chinese companies do precisely this all over Africa: big material, infrastructural, and financial investment, but relatively few jobs as Chinese workers are sent in to do everything.

I admit that seeing Chinese factory towns in Kansas sounds far fetched (racism, if nothing else, will prevent that), but we already employ (and ghettoize) Mexicans by the millions. And certainly throughout history, American industry was built on the backs of immigrants packed into factory towns throughout the country. The difference was that those manufacturing jobs were low-skill. This means that they could be taught quickly thanks to the assembly line. It also means that much labor was required. If Foxconn sets up factories in the US, I'm guessing that 1) they will be high-productivity, non-labor intensive affairs, and 2) they will be high-skill enough that they might be able to get away with mostly hiring foreign workers.

*It must be noted that under Obama manufacturing has rebounded and is one of the growing sectors of the economy.

EDIT: The commenter above me posted just as I was writing mine =)

Edited 2012-12-06 21:00 UTC

Reply Score: 5

Some NeXT machines
by Vinegar Joe on Thu 6th Dec 2012 21:41 UTC
Vinegar Joe
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Sold for close to $10,000US.......I guess Apple has decided to emulate Steve Jobs circa 1993.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Some NeXT machines
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 7th Dec 2012 03:20 UTC in reply to "Some NeXT machines"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

I just maxed out a mac pro at the apple store.
Final price: $15,436.00

Reply Score: 4

Skills not Wages
by Milo_Hoffman on Fri 7th Dec 2012 15:31 UTC
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Interesting last night on NBC he said that its 'skills', particularly math skills that make mfg stuff in the US difficult.

I assume that all that math is needed for all the measuring, recording and calculating of quality control and component testing data.

In electronics manufacturing the machines usually actually make the parts via robots etc, and the humans are basically just testers of the boards.

BUT, all that being true... it WAS the wages, and that is why the jobs left in the first place, and now that the problem is not the wages, they complain that no one has skills.

Of course no one has the skills, the skills have not been needed.

I think if you bring the jobs, and people will skill up. After all, that is why China did.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Skills not Wages
by Alfman on Fri 7th Dec 2012 16:42 UTC in reply to "Skills not Wages"
Alfman Member since:

The two really do go hand in hand. It's not accurate to simply say people don't have the skills. It's more likely that employment packages on offer are not attracting the desired workers. Companies used to pay employees to invest in vocational skills, that's unheard of any more. They expect highly skilled workers to walk in the door without investing a dime.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Skills not Wages
by Neolander on Sat 8th Dec 2012 08:28 UTC in reply to "Skills not Wages"
Neolander Member since:

If you are ready to pay for the skills, you will find some way to get them.

Case in point: I work in a physics lab where we have a bunch of engineers and technicians that dedicate to the conception and realization of helium-based cryogenic devices. Since this is a bit of a niche field, we'd have a hard time finding students coming from courses that specialize in this specific area, if such courses do exist for mere students (which I doubt).

So what we do instead is to find people who have been trained to some specific aspects of the job (mechanical engineering, vacuum technology, microfluidics, applied thermodynamics...), and then have the other members of the team train them for the rest.

This effectively costs a lot in terms of work hours, but we have no choice since we need those skills. I believe that similarly, money first and demand second could bring back all sorts of manufacturing skills back to our countries if we really wanted them.

Edited 2012-12-08 08:33 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Skills not Wages
by Alfman on Sat 8th Dec 2012 19:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Skills not Wages"
Alfman Member since:


I agree with all that.

We've been focusing on the cost/skill dynamics on the employer's side, but there's a similar dynamic on the employee side. The wages haven't remotely kept up with the educational costs required to attain the prerequisite degrees.

I don't think the rise in education price is arbitrary or "staged". It's dictated by supply and demand, when the economy weakens, more people go to school by taking on more debt. This phenomenon is pretty clear in the charts.

These numbers are alarming. It was already prohibitively expensive for me and my wife. Our degrees kept us in tuition debt for 8 years with help from my parents. If future wages don't catch up to tuition, our children could be in education debt for 30 years or more. If the projections hold, our daughter might just be paying off the final instalments of her degree in her 50s. Then she can get a 30 year home mortgage and pay it off into her 80s.

Meanwhile, our social security payments are officially projected to return $0.60 on the dollar.

Reply Score: 2

by e-co on Fri 7th Dec 2012 17:08 UTC
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Many corporations are going do this, example:

Lenovo: Making it in the U.S.A. (Q&A)

Reply Score: 3

v Phoney!
by jefro on Fri 7th Dec 2012 17:23 UTC
The Mac Pro!
by Priest on Sat 8th Dec 2012 06:40 UTC
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Seriously, the specs are so far behind on that thing for the price they charge for it I think they could afford to pay people to give up jobs on wall street or quit the NBA to go assemble them.

Not that they can't also build something else here but the Mac Pro seems like an easy enough start.

Reply Score: 1