As both a parent of college-age children and a member of a publicly held diversified industrial company (Eaton Corporation) board of directors, I have more than a casual interest in the state of U.S. manufacturing investment and employment. I am struck by the fact that, on the one hand, our country has a nominal unemployment rate of a little over 8%, but a real unemployment rate (which includes those who want to work, but have given up applying for new employment) of over 10%; while, on the other hand, according to a 2011 study conducted by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, it is highly likely that over 600,000 available manufacturing jobs are going unfilled because of a shortage of skilled workers to fill them.
What distresses me when I read a report like this is the dysfunctional direction in which parents of college-age children and the colleges and universities nudge young people. Given what I know about the exciting and innovative products and services industrial companies like Eaton Corporation (a company led by a once-in-a-generation CEO, Alexander “Sandy” Cutler) provide to the global marketplace, I would jump at the chance to get started in a career in a manufacturing-oriented company. Moreover, unless I had a passion for a four-year college education, I would seriously consider either a two-year community college degree, or a time-compressed college education (graduating in 3 or 3 ½ years, instead of four).