By John Redmond, Chief Financial Officer, UTS
I spent ten years as a corporate training manager for community colleges. My job was to go out to industry, large and small, and help design training for manufacturers. Local manufacturing companies are highly prized as economic development engines. Every job created by a medical products company for instance, whose customers are national and international, creates five to six other local jobs — teachers, tire salesman and restaurants owners to name a few. Any improvement in the efficiency or effectiveness of a manufacturing company improves the community around it.
One thing I noticed is that modern companies hire very few people just because they have a strong back or only obey orders. Karl Marx had a theory that people are just economic animals, programmable entities that are interchangeable, like light bulbs. He called it the Labor Theory of Value, and many companies built their success on this model in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Since then, forklifts and robots have replaced a lot of the strong back, quick fingers work that used to characterize American labor. Marxists adjusted their theory to include intellectual labor. They said the brain produces ideas like a gland secretes hormones. This works for engineers, who work with “stuff” and can work alone, but it does not explain the modern creative wave that gave us, for instance, Apple, Inc., or GPS navigation systems. Successful education in the real world includes creating the conditions that allow a continuous flow of “cool” ideas that can be marketed in “cool” ways and make lots of cash and stock options.
In modern companies, workers get promoted if they are responsible and creative and can play well with others. The creative ideas that a team can unleash often overshadow that of a lone genius toiling away in a lab.