It’s very likely that manufacturing in North America will come back en masse, but it won’t bring jobs. It will come from the likes of Formlabs and similar companies — with 3D printing systems that remove the laborious parts of the process from human muscle or input.
There might be more trucks on the road in the next 15 years, but not more truck drivers. There’ll be more warehouses, moving more things, with fewer workers.
There’s a glamor to the steady pay cheque of the factory job. There’s a livelihood attached to it, an identify.
One of my first summer jobs was cleaning buses — actually, the mud from underneath busses… with a 100C, 300 KPa steam hose… with the buses hoisted on two pillars 2 m above the ground… oh, and during the night shift. It was physically challenging work but it paid well — $18 CAD /hour in 2000.
There were a few people who went straight from high school to work for OC Transpo. The prospect of going from making nothing all ones life to suddenly earning $40,000 or $50,000 a year seemed like winning the lottery and could be much more appealing then spending $20,000+ over the next few years getting an education.
However, what struck me were the lifers. There was a lot of bitterness and feeling of lack of control among those who had spent their entire careers there. Their wages were within double those of someone who had just started. There was resentment towards management (there had been a shooting the previous year).
That job was a great lesson for an 18 year old.
With the talk around bringing back manufacturing jobs to the US, it’s sad. We the growth of AI and the new industries that are only starting to crack open, there’s plenty of room for people to have jobs that they’d dream to have as children.