Vocational skills

An exchange between Apple’s Tim Cook and 60 Minutes‘s Charlie Rose:

Charlie Rose: So if it’s not wages, what is it?
Tim Cook: It’s skill.

Charlie Rose: Skill?

Tim Cook: It’s skill. It’s that Chi–

Charlie Rose: They have more skills than American workers? They have more skills than–

Tim Cook: Now– now, hold on.

Charlie Rose: –German workers?

Tim Cook: Yeah, let me– let me– let me clear, China put an enormous focus on manufacturing. In what we would call, you and I would call vocational kind of skills. The U.S., over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills. I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we’re currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.

Charlie Rose: Because they’ve taught those skills in their schools?

Tim Cook: It’s because it was a focus of them– it’s a focus of their educational system. And so that is the reality.

So, what happened to U.S. manufacturing?
manufacturing jobs to 2014
I suspect that low wages in China attracted U.S. firms, including Apple. I also suspect that Chinese leaders projected a growing manufacturing opportunity, given its comparative compensation and surplus labor force. Then came the emphasis on developing vocational skills in China, with the expectation that the investment would yield ever-increasing returns.
real gdp china