Roughly 20.5 million students attended American colleges and universities in the fall of 2016, marking an annual increase of about 5.2 million since 2000. This surge, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, comes alongside seemingly endless escalations of tuition expenses and a mounting student loan debt crisis, which Forbes notes is now the second-highest consumer debt category.
Watch out, Rust Belt: The robots are coming. And they’re after one of the more precious resources in these beleaguered U.S. manufacturing hubs: jobs.
It’s been a summer of good energy news for American consumers: Memorial Day gas prices averaging $2.36 and Independence Day gas prices at 12-year lows. Americans have been hitting the road in record numbers, reaping the benefits of the U.S. energy revolution. Just in time for Labor Day, a new report keeps the good news coming, confirming that the U.S. natural gas and oil industry is a blockbuster job creator.
A strong manufacturing ecosystem that includes manufacturing engineering education is critical to ensuring the future vitality and innovation of manufacturing initiatives in the US. So it was welcome news to learn that the DOD is developing a new manufacturing engineering education (MEE) grant program, authorized by Congress with initial funding of $10 million for fiscal 2017.
Over 150 years ago, British author Samuel Butler predicted the rise of artificial intelligence, calling for a “war to the death” against machines – and arguing that that “the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants.”
Martin Ford, author of the jeremiad The Rise of the Robots, warns of “75 percent unemployment by 2100.” Not to be outdone, tech policy gadfly Vivek Wadwa prognosticates that 80 to 90 percent of U.S. jobs will be eliminated in 10 to 15 years. But why settle for 75 percent or even 90 percent when you can pronounce all jobs dead, as Brookings’ Mike Rettig has intoned in a morose piece titled “Will the last human worker please turn out the lights?”
When preparing students to be ready for the future, the focus often is on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. But, in a podcast with employees from Google, Pinterest and Twitter, EdSurge found that those in the tech industry believe students need skills beyond just technical expertise.
It's true that many jobs have gone overseas, to places where workers are willing to toil for less money. Yet at the same time, American manufacturers have actually added nearly a million jobs in the past seven years. And federal statistics show nearly 390,000 such jobs open. The problem? Many of these are not the same jobs that for decades sustained the working class.
With more factory jobs now demanding education, technical know-how or specialized skills, many US plants are struggling to fill positions.
The new factory that the two makers will set up at a yet-unannounced U.S. location will be capable of producing 300,000 vehicles a year, that output divided between the two companies. How much each would get is unclear, however. The factory will “create up to 4,000” U.S. jobs. That is a large number in today’s highly automated automotive manufacturing world, and suggests that the two partners intend to produce at least some key EV drivetrain components at the facility -- possibly including batteries.