With nations such as China, India and Japan using their competitive advantages of lower wages, high foreign investment and ready access to raw materials, Western nations such as the US are being rapidly replaced as the world's powerhouses of industry.
A few decades ago, manufacturing was one of America's core industries - producing vehicles, computers, and steel products. Now, Detroit, the motor city is all but abandoned and the big three American vehicle manufacturers had to plead for aid packages and loans from the central government to stay afloat. Fewer American vehicles are being sold abroad and the US is in danger of becoming a net importer of food for the first time.
Meanwhile products such as Apple's iconic iPhone are assembled in Chinese factories and employing Chinese labour in the place of American workers and it must be accepted that in general, unskilled and semi-skilled labour is moving offshore.
This is not however, the bad news it may appear to be. With the gradual erosion of low paid labour opportunities, Americans are being denied the opportunity of following their forbears into factory work, and are instead, more often choosing higher education as a path through life.
President Obama has grasped the nettle and aims to expand access to education to ensure that the US economy can compete internationally in future. On his own website, the president says, "At this defining moment in our history, preparing our children to compete in the global economy is one of the most urgent challenges we face.
"We need to stop paying lip service to public education, and start holding communities, administrators, teachers, parents and students accountable. We will prepare the next generation for success in college and the workforce, ensuring that American children lead the world once again in creativity and achievement. After graduating high school, all Americans should be prepared to attend at least one year of job training or higher education to better equip our workforce for the 21st century economy."
There are more than 4,000 degree granting institutions in America - a figure that many in less developed countries would be amazed at - and they offer courses in everything ranging from theology to zoology. Whatever you could want do with your life, there is a course to cater for it.
According to the 2005 US census, 27.2% of US citizens have bachelor's degrees with a further 10% going on to take either PhDs or masters degrees.
Higher education not only gives a competitive advantage and the opportunity to become the best in a particular field. It also offers a sense of self worth and self esteem, which can only come from innovation, invention and creativity
It allows the individual to make a difference to the world through intellectual effort in a way that simply toiling in a factory or field will not permit.
The human brain accounts for around 2% of body weight - far higher than any other creature on earth, but with many people, the extra capacity for thought and logic which separates human beings from animals is seldom used and they may spend most of their lives with their intellect set to idle. Never excelling and living a basically unfulfilling existence.
Education, especially at a higher level is like a gymnasium for the mind - stretching, pulling and bending. Education makes it stronger, more flexible and capable of tackling problems far beyond those found in everyday life.
Innovations come from those who think, and you'll never know what you're capable of unless you try.