As the cartoon character Pogo once famously observed, we have met the enemy and he is us. Manufacturing was for decades the key to middle class success. But, as Snap-On CEO Nick Pinchuk has observed, “The American dream of middle class is slipping away. Manufacturing jobs are the key to the middle class and they’re disappearing.”
Pinchuk is on a crusade to revitalize the middle class by targeting the root problem: education and training. While federal politicians debate every issue – from taxes to immigration to trade policy – as if the survival of society depended on them, Pinchuk says these are in fact micro-issues. The one macro-issue of our era is workforce development – or, more specifically, designing educational strategies that foster the necessary skills and interest in children and young adults to enable them to build careers in science and math, along with engineering and technology.
If we want to rebuild the middle class, we need our political and social leaders, along with parents, to encourage technical careers. “We can't have people believe that technical careers are a consolation prize,” Pinchuk says. We must overcome the perspective that manufacturing jobs are the "salvation of the disadvantaged." We – parents, teachers, politicians, and HR professionals – must talk about technical jobs as being desirable and important to society.