Apple Employs an Abundance of Skilled Labor – In China

#supplychain #regulations


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon


Did anyone see the December 20, 2015, edition of 60 Minutes, which featured an interview of Apple CEO Tim Cook? A colleague brought it to my attention recently and I watched it with great interest because it actually provided a very good view into a very secretive company and covered not only the issues of encryption technology and corporate taxes, but also why the company is not bringing work back to the USA from China.

Cupertino, CA-based Apple is worth about $600 billion and boasts a healthy profit margin of about 40 percent across its extensive line of products. There are currently 469 Apple stores worldwide. So why doesn’t Apple feel it can bring more manufacturing back to the USA? Cook’s answer was because there aren’t enough skilled tool and die workers. Most junior high schools and high schools across the US have ceased exposing students to the world of manufacturing and the viable career paths available. He’s correct, of course, and no one knows it better than we, in our industry, do.

During the interview, Charlie Rose is treated to a tour of Apple’s design and engineering lab in Cupertino, and while anything that could give away any hint of what the future will bring was carefully covered up or hidden away, Rose did see examples of prototypes used during development of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus; he learned how Apple’s design team creates CAD models of prototypes for its Apple Watch and he saw the electronic blueprint being sent to a CNC machine where a block of aluminum was carved precisely into the form of the watch housing. And did you know that there are 200 individual parts that make up an Apple iPhone camera module?

It was a very good representation of what modern, digital manufacturing is, and I can only hope that many young people and their parents happened to be watching and that they learned how cool it can be to work in manufacturing today.

The problem is, how can we reignite the excitement here in the USA? How can we reestablish shop classes and other hands-on curriculum at the junior high and high school level in order to rebuild our manufacturing workforce? Can we do it?

According to Rose’s 60 Minutes report, Apple is manufacturing almost all of its products in China, employing about one million workers in factories like Foxconn there. Tim Cook told Rose it’s not cheap labor that’s driving this – It’s skilled labor and the abundance of it in China.

Just think of all the skilled, good-paying jobs that could be created if our government and citizens made manufacturing the priority it should be for the good of our economy and our children’s futures.

View the 60 Minutes interview or read the transcript here.

Also, connect here with MMT and Gardner Business Media to see some of the things we’re doing to make manufacturing exciting for the next generation.