Steve Jobs: Engineering skills plentiful in China

In a post on Community College Spotlight, Joanne Jacobs pulled an interesting quote from Walter Isaacson’s biography of the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Apple had 700,000 factory workers employed in China, he said, and that was because it needed 30,000 engineers on-site to support those workers. ‘You can’t find that many in America to hire,’ he said. These factory engineers did not have to be PhDs or geniuses; they simply needed to have basic engineering skills for manufacturing. Tech schools, community colleges, or trade schools could train them. ‘If you could educate those engineers,’ he said, ‘we could move more manufacturing plants here.’

“The argument made a strong impression on the president. Two or three times over the next month he told his aides, ‘We’ve got to find ways to train those 30,000 manufacturing engineers that Jobs told us about.’

It is difficult for community colleges to train factory engineers when most high school graduates require remediation in math and English.

For those who complain about American companies moving their facilities oversees, it should be emphasized that Jobs identified skilled and knowledgable workers, not lower production costs, as the reason why Apple located their manufacturing plant in China.

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

Reader Comments