In a concerning revelation shedding light on America’s manufacturing decline, Taiwan Semiconductor, the world’s leading chip maker, recently disclosed delays in the completion of its long-anticipated $40 billion Arizona factory. The project, which had been in the works for three years and underwent extensive negotiations, missed its deadline due to a severe lack of qualified engineers. Consequently, the company had no choice but to import 500 engineers from Taiwan to expedite the facility’s launch. This predicament raises pertinent questions about the underlying reasons for America’s engineer shortage, particularly considering its wealth compared to Taiwan and substantial investment in education.
Critics point to the education system as a significant contributing factor. They argue that the system has been veering away from emphasizing practical skills, transforming into what they call an “indoctrination factory” under the influence of left-wing socialists. Instead of prioritizing subjects like mathematics and reading, the focus appears to be on teaching ideological bullet points, leading to growing concerns of creeping socialism and a diminishing workforce reminiscent of third-world countries. The contrast is evident in Taiwanese universities, where a majority of the 20,000 students pursue STEM fields, with almost 30% obtaining degrees in engineering alone. In the US, only 6% of university degrees are in engineering, and a considerable portion of engineering students are foreign nationals.
This academic discrepancy extends beyond university campuses, as the American education system’s shortcomings are impacting basic levels of education, perpetuating generational poverty. Startling statistics from schools in Baltimore and Detroit indicate that a vast majority of students lack proficiency in math and reading, despite substantial financial resources allocated for education. Baltimore spends a staggering $21,000 per student, and even Detroit allocates over $15,000 per student, significantly more than Taiwan spends on its children’s education. Nevertheless, the results remain far from satisfactory, highlighting a dire situation that demands attention.
Adding to the complexities, America’s manufacturing sector faces an array of challenges from regulatory burdens, encompassing environmental, labor, and social justice policies. A study by the National Association of Manufacturers reveals that environmental regulations alone impose costs exceeding $13,500 per manufacturing employee, with additional regulations driving this figure up to $25,000, almost doubling the cost of employing a worker. Consequently, US-built products become substantially costlier than their counterparts manufactured in other countries, including China.
The overall decline in American manufacturing dates back to the 1970s and continues to persist. Presently, the US manufacturing workforce lags behind countries like Germany, Austria, and Japan by 30 to 40%. To reverse this trend, addressing the education system’s focus on hard skills and alleviating the burdensome regulations on manufacturing is essential. Failure to take action could lead to the nation falling further behind, relegated to low-level assembly work with a workforce comparable to third-world economies.
If these challenges are appropriately addressed, the manufacturing sector could regain its prominence, offering sustainable livelihoods similar to those seen in countries like Japan, where families can support middle-class lifestyles. Additionally, this revival could breathe new life into regions once regarded as the “Rust Belt,” potentially transforming the trajectory of American manufacturing.
As developments unfold, it remains crucial to closely monitor how policymakers address these pressing issues.