The Flaws of Outsourcing

If a control engineer wants to break into business for himself, where does he learn to make a go of it? Trial and error is one route, but a common step is to follow up that engineering degree with an MBA.

Unfortunately, business schools fail to provide students with a good foundation for running a business in at least three key areas, according to Tom Moriarty, president of Alidade Maintenance, Engineering and Reliability (MER). Business school curriculums tend to overemphasize government's ability to generate economic activity, view operations and maintenance activities as a cost that must be minimized, and believe that it's right to outsource lower-skill, lower-paying jobs, Moriarty outlines in a Plant Services column, "Where Business Schools Fail."

We've debated from time to time the concept of the U.S. offshoring more of its lower-level positions, becoming a working society instead of high-level thinkers. This tactic is certainly not without its flaws, and I particularly liked the way Moriarty made this point: "Striving to build an economy increasingly on high-tech, high-education jobs has a major flaw," he writes. "Complex systems still must be fabricated and maintained. That means you need to have skilled workers to fabricate and maintain those systems. Where do skilled workers get their skills? They start out at a low-skill position gaining experience in how to be an employee, obtaining training and increasing their knowledge. Eventually, these people become higher-tech workers with higher skills."

We hear so much in the controls field about the gap in skills as the older workforce begins to retire. As Moriarty puts it, "the available feeder stock for domestic high-skilled persons has dwindled. Meanwhile, we've fostered a segment of the population that thinks they're entitled to a high-paying job by virtue of the fact they have a college degree and can fog a cold mirror."

What do you think? Does our younger workforce have the skills it needs to take over from the baby boomers?