At a dinner with President Obama in February, Steve Jobs said Apple could manufacture in the U.S. if community colleges, tech and trade schools trained “factory engineers,” writes Walter Isaacson in his biography of the high-tech leader.
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.’
Jobs also suggested that all foreign students earning engineering degrees in the U.S. be given visas to stay and work. Obama said that could be done only in conjunction with the Dream Act. Jobs thought that was lame.
So do I. College graduates with needed skills who’ve studied here legally are not the same as high school graduates who’ve come here illegally (as children), even if they’ve acquired some college credits. I do think the Dream Act could pass if it offered citizenship based on military service, which people see as a sacrifice, rather than college enrollment, which, unfortunately, doesn’t guarantee useful skills.