Why manufacturing matters for America

The United States will always need local manufacturing. But, we do need a new manufacturing philosophy and new economic plans for continued success. Our current manufacturing environment continues to support labor practices and strategies which are still firmly rooted in early 20th century labor sentiments. We will never hold our own against other countries if we continue to behave as if we are a developing nation. We need heavy investment in education, training, and workforce enhancement to moderate structural changes in U.S. labor markets.

Global Public Square

Watch the latest GPS special ‘Global Lessons: Putting America to Work,’ this Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

By Willy Shih and Gary Pisano, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Gary Pisano and Willy Shih are authors of the new book ‘Producing Prosperity: Why America Needs a Manufacturing Renaissance,’ and professors at Harvard Business School. The views expressed are their own.

Both U.S. presidential candidates have promised to bring back manufacturing jobs by promising new initiatives to support manufacturing. Listening to them, it would be easy to believe that growth in manufacturing will solve our unemployment problem. But if we look beyond the promises, we believe the reality will be a little harsher.

Manufacturing only employs 9 percent of our workforce, so expecting manufacturing to address our high unemployment rate is unrealistic. With any reasonable amount of productivity growth, we would have to grow manufacturing disproportionately relative to the rest of the economy in order for manufacturing…

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