"Now, it’s less art, more science. And this is exactly the challenge today. Even when a place like Rochester seems to be figuring it out, this deeper problem remains. There are very few jobs for the blue-collar worker.
It’s a conundrum Nabil Nasr thinks about every day. He’s the associate provost and director of the Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Among his many duties, Nasr’s work seeks to help manufacturers remain competitive globally, and he thinks a lot about the future of manufacturing.
"Manufacturing today is not what it used to be. In the past, for example, Kodak used to make very sophisticated, high-precision lenses in a very primitive process that was very time-consuming," Nasr says. "Today, we’re making very sophisticated computerized equipment that can make some of these lenses in a fraction of the time they used to spend in making those lenses before."
That takes skill. And there are RIT students training for the kinds of jobs they have at Exelis. But that still leaves the question: Where is the blue-collar worker today? What options are there for them?
"This is a serious issue, and I think there are a lot of people left out of the manufacturing sector, and there are a lot of barriers," Nasr says."
"Lately I have been thinking that the point must be reached when scientists, politicians, artists, philosophers, men of religion, and all those who work in the fields should gather here, gaze out over these fields, and talk things over together. I think this is the kind of thing that must happen if people are to see beyond their specialties…. An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing." Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution