I think foreign students at Western universities are a good competent labour resource for the Western high-tech industries. Only the selected few foreign students, i.e. "creme de la creme", are allowed to work in the West after completing their studies. The West will carry on employing the relevant foreign workers for years to come as this is one of the key drivers of innovation in the West.
"At Apple, interns are an important part of the team. Whether you sign on for a summer internship or a co-op during the academic year, you'll be working on critical projects. Better yet, you'll be that much closer to landing a full-time job at Apple after graduation."
That is a good example of how the big companies create the "natural selection" environment I mentioned above. Have you noticed how big and successful companies boast with having an international working environment with people from so-and-so number of countries in the world? Those Western companies have discovered long ago that by employing international talent, they make every spent dollar stretch as far as it possibly can. I have seen many examples of how employing foreign workers is so beneficial for a company but I will not get into the details of this in order not to get off-topic.
As for the returning students to their home countries, surely the aggregate intellectual level of the nation goes up, however, unless there is a suitable infrastructure to allocate the returning talents into suitable jobs, such talents are simply wasted. I have witnessed many examples of such waste in a third world country where extremely talented and well-educated technical people end up doing irrelevant work purely to earn their bread. This third world country was (and still is) simply not equipped to make use of such people. This situation can only be described as a tragedy in my book.
I conclude by saying "An education abroad ensures nothing at home unless that home is built well enough to accommodate".
I think making a conclusive statement such as "we are not going to see any concrete cases of Innovation from either China or India today" is difficult. It depends on the incentives available for people to make innovations. I am pretty sure there are very creative thinkers in India and China and such people are the drivers of innovation at the end of the day. Yes, the current manufacturing trends in those countries are based on western designs. However, that will not be a stopper for innovation in India and China. As a matter of fact, having access to every step of manufacturing high-tech products can be very inspiring for young people working there. Thanks to this exposure they have the opportunity to "borrow" ideas from existing designs to create better and more advanced products.
I also think that innovation does need to be supported by a solid infrastructure of mentors, designers, private and government support. The education system has to plant the seeds of curiosity into young minds rather than giving merit to memorising what is already available in textbooks. That is how creativity is nurtured, i.e. by providing the necessary space for the human brain to develop in the right direction. All of these essentials of innovation cannot be created overnight though. A country has to commit to a long journey in order to join the club of solid innovators.
At the end of the day, there is no mental difference between the people on this planet. Anyone can create anything. The difference is in how people are taught, directed and motivated throughout their lives as well as the living and the sociopolitical conditions in their home geography.
The question you posed upfront--should we continue to consider the cost of labor--made me stop and think about that for a second. What a wonderful world it would be if all costs were equal and we didn't have all this squabbling and infighting about jobs and outsourcing. Of course, there's no way I can see eliminating job costs from the equation, and your points are well-made.
@Cryptoman - A friend of mine works in softweare testing, and related the same kinds of issues with outsourcing software development. I supppose offshore sources may eventually develop enough expertise to address some of the quality problems. but Iwonder if, by that time, labor rate rise enough to wipe out the benefit anyway.
I think there are other distinct advantages to manufacturing in China, although labor rates may not be one of them. Over the years manufacturing clusters have become prolific, starting along the coast and moving inland. We've published a white paper (Clusters Meld the Benefits of Modern Offshoring and Traditional Vertical Integration) on manufacturing clusters, its posted on the EBN Avnet Velocity site.http://www.ebnonline.com/velocity/
EBN Dialogue enables and encourages you to participate in live chats with notable leaders and luminaries. Not only editors and journalists, but the entire EBN community is able to comment and ask questions. Listed below are upcoming and archived chats.
Thailand Stages a Comeback Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Microsoft Surface: Potential Winners & Losers What are the implications for the electronics industry supply chain of Microsoft Corp.'s decision to launch its own tablet PC? Join industry veteran and EE Times' systems and OEM expert Rick Merritt on Tuesday, July 3, at 12:00 pm EDT for a Live Chat on this subject.
Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
You've heard the saying "the No. 1 supply chain risk is your people." That hasn't always been the case. But today's complex global supply chain requires a new type of multitalented employee. It's one who understands, finance, marketing, economics, is savvy with technology, graceful with relationships and can think analytically.
Where are these people? Are universities properly preparing the next generation supply chain professionals? How do train your existing workforce for these new, demanding positions?
Brian Fuller, editor-in-chief of EBN, will lead a 60-minute Avnet Velocity panel discussion that will ask and answer these and other questions swirling around today's supply-chain talent challenges.