This morning, Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank delivered the keynote address  at “Manufacturing, Innovation, and Workforce Training: What Works In Germany and The United States For Jobs and Growth,” a conference co-sponsored by the Aspen Institute, the German Center for Research and Innovation, the German Embassy, and the Representative of German Industry and Trade. Her remarks come the week before Commerce Secretary John Bryson travels to Dusseldorf and Berlin to meet with government and business leaders.
Deputy Secretary Blank noted how both America and Germany have shown strength in areas such as manufacturing and exporting. She emphasized the importance of maintaining economic growth by strengthening the U.S.-German economic relationship.Deputy Secretary Blank provided details about the essential role the manufacturing sector is playing right now to strengthen America’s economy. For example, the Commerce Department just released a report showing that U.S. manufacturing jobs provide wages and benefits that are 17 percent higher than non-manufacturing jobs. The manufacturing sector employs the majority of America’s scientists and engineers, and is responsible for 70 percent of U.S. private sector R&D and 90 percent of patents.
As those statistics illustrate, manufacturing is an engine of innovation. Outlining the Obama administration’s approach to fostering innovation and strengthening the manufacturing sector, Deputy Secretary Blank said that continued support for basic research and education are all crucial. She also pointed to President Obama’s support for doubling the budgets of key federal programs such as the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) labs.
In addition, Deputy Secretary Blank highlighted the importance of increasing exports and trade, including promoting more trade between the U.S. and Germany, America’s fifth-largest trading partner. She also mentioned the importance of the new Colombia trade agreement that went into effect this week, providing more opportunities for American businesses that export to one of South America’s largest markets.
Dr. Blank also discussed the importance of education in science, technology, engineering and math–STEM fields—saying that a globally competitive economy requires a globally competitive workforce. STEM workers are central to advanced manufacturing firms. That’s why President Obama has proposed an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund, which aims to strengthen the pipeline of workers into good jobs, including those in manufacturing. The president’s 2013 budget also invests $3 billion across the federal government in programs that promote STEM education.
There are many opportunities for the U.S. and Germany to continue to lead the world in manufacturing, and many other areas. Dr. Blank closed by saying the two countries should continue to examine ways to use basic research and development; export support and workforce development--and all of the other tools at their disposal--to strengthen the economic recovery for both economies and in turn to bring prosperity to their businesses and their citizens.