President Barack Obama will be creating a new manufacturing center in the Knoxville, Tennessee. His goal, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel, is to bring more business to the area, which will produce a larger pool of jobs for the citizens who live in the city. Obama's wider plan is to create 45 manufacturing hubs in different U.S. regions in order to bring about a further expansion of the manufacturing sector, which continues to grow slowly and pare itself down.
Manufacturing is a unique industry because even as it expands, the number of manual labor jobs associated with the sector is shrinking, while highly paid and challenging jobs for the business are growing. The reason is that manufacturing is becoming highly technical, focusing on machines and robots to do most of the work that people once did. As such, those who can find work in manufacturing are people who have experience doing jobs with complex machines. A further conundrum having to do with the industry is that while the jobs available are losing their number and becoming computer-oriented, the number of applicants remains small because most people don't have the necessary training. Additionally, the sector is still associated with low-income work, which is simply not true. In fact, manufacturing often pays better for less years of study than many jobs that require a four-year college degree.
Building a stronger middle class
According to Oak Ridge Today, the president was initially going to wait until his State of the Union address to deliver the speech, but decided to make his announcement about the plans for Tennessee early.
"Typically, we try to hold all the news until the day of the speech," said Dan Pfeiffer, an assistant to the president and senior adviser, in a statement to the newspaper. "And there will still be plenty of moments on the big night. But this year, we figured there's no time like the present…Building on the momentum of the last several weeks, the president didn't want to wait until the State of the Union to take new steps to help the middle class and lay out his ideas to keep strengthening the economy."
Pfeiffer said that the president wants to boost the number of people in the middle class by offering further pathways to get into that economic position. One of the ways he is doing this is by providing places where people can learn about manufacturing and gain the skills necessary to get into these quality, high-paying jobs that will likely be around for some time to come in the future.
Investing in manufacturing
As part of his plan to boost the middle class through adding manufacturing jobs, the president pledged $290 million in public-private investment for two additional Manufacturing Innovation Hub Competitions, Industry Week reported. These competitions will focus on companies trying to outdo each other with new technologies having to do with so-called smart manufacturing technologies using cloud-based computing.
The major incentive behind smart manufacturing, which is a system in which electrical and other energy is dynamically controlled, being sent to the machines in the factory that need it most when they need it the most is to "give American manufacturers unprecedented, real-time control of energy use across factories and companies to increase productivity and save on energy costs," according to a White House press release.
Additionally, the president wants companies to innovate their models for manufacturing in order to further refine the way products are made efficiently in the U.S. Such a job will help the country remain globally competitive and create more manufacturing jobs as it becomes more lucrative to build items in this country.