KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Manufacturers say technology and an educated work force are the keys to bringing back jobs from overseas. U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran visited one manufacturer in Fairfax Monday to learn what it takes to compete in the global economy.
As more and more products are made or assembled overseas in recent years, many Americans view manufacturing as a dying industry.
Sen. Moran wants to see our economy generate more good-paying jobs making parts and goods. That's why he visited A&E Custom Manufacturing. The sheet metal fabricator has invested in high-tech lasers and robotics to successfully bring back work that had moved elsewhere.
"Work is coming home from China," Sen Moran said. "We ought to be looking at what they do and make sure we do it elsewhere so more jobs remain in the United States or return to the United States."
A&E owner Steve Hasty says the combination of technology and an educated, trained workforce are the keys to having more family-supporting jobs the nation needs.
"Every manufacturing job that we create here in the United States spins off two to three others jobs," Hasty said. "I make metal components, I take metal and add value to those parts. But I have to ship those out. That means I need boxes, I need printing. I need all other types of support functions. The manufacturing industry spins off a lot of other types of jobs in the United States."
Technology may give America an edge when it comes to manufacturing. But Hasty says hiring educated people who can operate the expensive equipment has proven to be a challenge. He says not all schools train students for careers in the manufacturing industry. Sen. Moran believes community colleges and technical colleges have an important role to play in meeting that need.
Other challenges include: Environmental regulations that are driving up utility costs for manufacturers, making it more difficult to compete on the global level. Hasty also worries that as an employer with 56 workers, the Affordable Care Act will make it more expensive for his business to operate.