Here is a link to a recent article in The New York Times entitled “How the US lost out to iPhone work”. This is an article every politician should read – especially David Cameron. It may be about America, but it has lessons for Britain too.
At a dinner in California last February, President Obama asked Steve Jobs what it would take to get iPhones manufactured in America. Steve Jobs replied, “These jobs are not coming back”. When you read the article you will understand why.
It may be foolish to think that Britain and America are able to compete against cheap Chinese labour or that it would be wise to even attempt to do so, but it’s not just the price of labour, but the quality of that labour. It’s also the availability of educated, trained engineers and craftsmen too. The latter is already having an effect on the middle classes in both countries.
What is frightening in making a comparison between Britain and new economies like China, is how far behind we have fallen in terms of education and training. Even if our politicians suddenly discovered the will to regenerate manufacturing, we just wouldn’t have the trained labour to make it happen, not now, not for at least two decades.
Somehow we seem to have been overcome with an inexplicable lack of will to do – anything. No new ideas, nothing. Content it would seem, to continue in the belief that our future is secure supported by the financial sector and service industries. It is not.
Britain and America have a problem. A badly trained – if trained at all – middle class facing long-term unemployment. The ‘unhappiness’ this is going to generate in years to come is going to make for an interesting time in British politics.