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Transcript: 5G: Industry 4.0 with Niklas Heuveldop & Carolyn Lee

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: Hi. I’m Cat Zakrzewski, a technology policy reporter here at The Post. Today, we’re going to examine how 5G technology is reshaping our world as well as its impact on the global economy and the jobs market. My first guest is the President and CEO of Ericsson North America, Niklas Heuveldop.

Welcome to the Washington Post, Niklas.

MR. HEUVELDOP: Thanks so much, Cat, for having me.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: Thanks so much for being here. And so, I wanted to start today. Ericsson has said that it's at the forefront of this 5G transformation. Can you tell me a little bit about the role that the company is playing in that shift in the United States and where you see things headed in the next 12 months?

MR. HEUVELDOP: Absolutely. I'll do my best. So, we started, of course, doing research on 5G many years ago, probably 10, 12 years ago. And we have ever since the word got out, what we were working on as an industry with 5G, of course, being approached by industrials or from multiple sectors, been working with 20, 30 partners from different industries to figure out how 5G could help transform their operations. And they typically come at it from the perspective of, how can I reduce my total operating costs, transform my custom experience, or grow into new business opportunities, and some of the underlying drivers were the same.

And I guess I should have seen already in the very early conversations that smart manufacturing was going to be one of those places where the value of 5G was going to be significant. And being one of the prime suppliers of 5G technology, it, of course, makes very good sense for us to also start experimenting with our own technology and some of the adjacent technologies, like AI, machine learning, virtual reality. They all benefit from 5G because it's really in and around 5G we have a lot of other disruptive technologies also evolving, and that creates this super interesting, call it exponential innovation in and across multiple industries.

So being, again, one of the leaders we had the privilege of working with our North American customers, which are frontrunners from a global perspective, accelerated the 5G standards, so that already in late 2018 we were able to launch 5G, 5G networks then, first in the world in the U.S. And we enjoyed that early leadership position and were then part of that success of building out the 5G networks.

And what we then also did since we saw a huge demand in the U.S., we decided to then also move manufacturing back to the U.S., and we hadn't done that--I don't think anybody has done that for about two decades. Since 2G, no telecom equipment has been produced at scale in the U.S. But we saw the need to be close to our lead customers since there was going to be a lot of local requirements that we want to respond to in a good way. We started the work. And looking at 5G as one technology, AI and virtual reality as some complementary technologies, Edge compute, we determined that there was actually a good business case for us to move manufacturing to the U.S.

And I can talk about some of the examples of the use cases that we saw, but I guess I can--


MR. HEUVELDOP: --start by saying that we started the work in March of 2019 when we hired the first engineer. We launched a factory in March of 2020, in the middle of the pandemic. We could not have done that without 5G, actually.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And, Niklas, I wanted to maybe just start and ask you a little bit about the rollout so far in the U.S. because, as you mentioned, 5G technology has been available to consumers here for a couple of years, but in a lot of cases they're not really seeing a meaningful difference for many cellphone customers in the difference between their 5G plans and 4G so far. So, when do you think we'll start to see a difference and the really transformative effects of this tech?

MR. HEUVELDOP: Fair question. And we have come a very long way in the U.S. So, we do have about 300 million population equivalent in coverage, but it's in a low band, to your point. So, the performance is slightly better than 4G but certainly not transformative.

We then have seen deployments now in the mid-band spectrum, which is where you get some of the really high throughput and some of the unique performance characteristics of 5G. But you can say we've only come halfway, so there is about 160 million of the U.S. population coverage. Then, the exceptionally high performance you get when you deploy 5G in that very high band, the millimeter wave bands. That's now available in 75 cities.

But your point is fair. We're in the middle of the buildout across the country, but you will start seeing exceptional performance starting to translate into innovative services now. I think the next 12 to 18 months is when this is really going to take off, when these unique capabilities, the truly differentiated 5G capabilities get exposed to developers, and they can start programming on this new, pervasive innovation platform. That's when we'll see the real innovation happening in both--I guess for the benefit of consumers, enterprises, but also the public sector for sure. I mean, we've seen a huge acceleration now in healthcare and education, for example. So, I think--I think the next 12 to 18 months is when this is really going to take off, but the construction is under full way.

And we started slightly this advantage in the U.S. because we didn't have a lot of mid-band spectrum available to our customers when the 5G rollout started. So, we're playing a little bit of catchup in that sense.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And so, you mentioned in the next 12 to 18 months we'll start seeing some of these effects. What can consumers expect? Because obviously 4G ushered in so many of the technologies we use every day. Services like Uber and more wouldn't be possible without it. What are you looking forward to most as 5G becomes more ubiquitous?

MR. HEUVELDOP: Yeah, that's the $1.5 trillion question, I guess. That's the CTI number for the amount of GDP growth that 5G will generate in the U.S. during this decade.

I hadn't been too bullish about--too bullish about the opportunity in the consumer space, but what we see, several of our customers promoting pretty aggressively now is, of course, fixed wireless access. That is an interesting application I think will be particularly relevant as we try to close the digital divide in the U.S. That's an important one where 5G will play an important role.

When it comes to new services, I think look at--gaming, I think, is one of those sectors which hold a huge promise and where 5G can really make a difference. So, you need the unique throughput and bandwidth that 5G offers plus this instant responsiveness of the network. So, already today, gaming is $175 billion industry, globally. About 50 percent of it is already mobile. And based on call it early experiences, we look around the world. In South Korea, for example, that already has a nationwide network in the mid-band, so a high-performance network, the big growth has been in the gaming sector and the partnerships between the operators and the device manufacturers. Both the iPhone and the Samsung new devices are actually gaming platforms. There is a lot of innovation happening in and around gaming. So, I think add to that, in the not-too-distant future, I wouldn't be surprised if we see some new creative headsets/goggles as we can see some more immersive gaming experiences taking form. It's not--it wouldn't be too far-fetched that now that the network compute platform is being pushed out into the far edge, that you can have basically a virtual gaming console sitting on the network and the relatively thin client and device. So, my kid wouldn't have to buy a new gaming console every 18 months. You can literally rely on the cloud infrastructure with instant responsiveness over 5G. So, I think gaming is one of those really exciting spaces in the consumer category.

Then of course--and I can go back to our very own factory that we were able to launch here during the pandemic. A couple of examples. We've been experimenting with dozens of different use cases. All it really takes is a handful to make the business case for the investment of the infrastructure. In our case, again, we launched in March of 2020, autonomous guided vehicles that we have transporting equipment on the shop floor have reduced manual material handling by 65 percent, and that's significant. It's a security risk and is also a task that distracts our employees. So that is one use case which we have seen deliver significant value.

Digital twins. With a lot of sensors replicating the production floor with a digital twin has allowed us to reduce downtime in production by 50 percent. We've seen production capacity increase by 25 percent, and waste and errors reduced by 30 percent. So, significant savings with that call it one use case.

And then virtual reality. I mean, as I mentioned, we could not have launched the factory if it wouldn't have been for 5G and virtual reality because remember now, March 2020, travel ban. And we had our reference factory in Estonia, most of expert engineers in Estonia, and we had just hired a complete engineering team in Lewisville, Texas, to be trained on the equipment that was still not on the shop floor. So, we literally had to use augmented reality to train our employees on site in Lewisville, on virtual equipment that was not on the floor yet, by experts sitting in Estonia. And that allowed us to prepare our team so that when the equipment arrived, we could then also initiate manufacturing without anybody having to travel.

That one use case we see is very relevant also now going forward because every time we introduce a new product we don't have to fly in experts or send anybody to training. Our local team is then trained, leveraging augmented reality, staying on site in Lewisville, Texas. That, of course, also has allowed us to increase the job content and the ability of our local employees to work on higher skilled tasks, which makes for a much more fulfilling job. And if you look at--I saw some statistic not too long ago that 60 percent of the jobs in the manufacturing space that have not been filled is for lack of experience. Augmented reality and the kind of technologies we have experimented with would address that and would create an opportunity to then use less, train less, prepare employees to work with augmented reality and guided by experts or even artificial intelligence.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And so on that point--

MR. HEUVELDOP: Just one example.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: --about the factory, why do you need 5G when you're in one fixed location to do that? Why can't you use just existing broadband and WiFi capabilities?

MR. HEUVELDOP: That's a really good question. We have been at this for about five years. There's a number of things. It's the fact that 5G, you could argue just as 4G, works on licensed spectrum. So you don't have any interference. You have guaranteed integrity and security of your--of your network, instant responsiveness, throughput. The amount of devices you can put on a square mile or square foot is vastly superior to other computing technologies. Energy efficiency. There's a number of factors. One of our customers calls it the Eight Currencies of 5G.

There's a number of factors that make 5G rather uniquely equipped to serve these use cases. And you can maybe find a technology for a certain use case that could be superior and another technology for another use case, but 5G can support all use cases. So with one technology, you can basically service all kinds of use cases that you will need, in our case then, on a smart factory site, manufacturing site. So the fact that we can equip essentially any device, any goods transitioning on the floor with sensors and track them in real time, analyze the data in real time, and then action--take actions, predictive/prescriptive maintenance kind of actions, is unique to 5G.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And one thing that I read, you're pushing into mining with 5G as well, which is an area that I think we don't traditionally think of as being disrupted by a new technology like this. Can you tell me a little bit about how 5G is used in mining and whether or not it can make the process safer?

MR. HEUVELDOP: Absolutely. And I think you started with--or you finished with one of the key questions. Mining is the riskiest business in the world. We have more fatalities in the mining business, more injuries in the mining business than in other--any other industry. So mining industries were among the first customers to approach us to understand how 5G could help inform the mining operation.

There is a number of things, obvious things like sensors, where they can detect any movements in the mine and trigger the alarms, tracking of devices. I had no idea that you could actually be losing excavators that weigh 12 tons, but the mines are very distributed, and a big problem for mining operators is that they lose equipment.

Maybe more interesting is by using responsiveness in the 5G network and the bandwidth that we have in 5G networks you can now work with autonomous excavators. So you can send these big machines down in the mines, drill rigs, with an operator sitting outside the mine, perfectly safe, with high resolution video, and haptic feedback. So you can literally sit with a steering wheel and sense when the truck drives over a rock or so. So you have instant responsiveness, and that allows you to operate these big machines underground, in mines.

The additional benefit of doing that is that now you don't need to have your employees in the mine. The mine is not a safe environment, and when you work with explosives to extend the mine you have to evacuate the mine and run a lot of air conditioning to clear the mine of toxic fumes before operators can get back into the mine. I think the number for all the mines combined in Sweden would probably run up 2 percent of the energy bill in Sweden in running air conditioning in underground mines. You don't have to do that if you don't have to have people in the mines.

There is huge environmental impacts, energy efficiency impacts, the fact that now you can now run your excavators 24-7 and also haulers and other equipment that would be operating in the mine. So we've seen impressive numbers, 40, 60 percent operating efficiencies, 50 percent energy savings. So, big, big numbers, not to mention then health and employee safety. So mining is truly one of those industries that will benefit a lot from 5G, for sure.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And we only have a few minutes left, so I wanted to turn now to a viewer question for you. Tom Cramer [phonetic] of California, he asks, what is the United States doing to become technically competitive with China and Huawei?

MR. HEUVELDOP: That's a big question. It's a very good question. So I think, first, being first matters. The U.S. was first and was very influential in the standard setting. So we benefitted from rolling out the first 5G networks in the world. We did it first in the low-band, in the mid-band, and in the millimeter wave band. So that early technology leadership, pushing the envelope on technologies so that us then that manufacture the equipment can continue evolving that, and make sure that we get the best performance out of the 5G networks.

The kind of pilots that we're talking about now, early proof of concepts, stress testing the technology and the platform with these highly demanding use cases, helps us improve the technology.

The big benefit and where the real race is, is at the end of the day the innovation that will happen on top of the network. So here--and we're working very hard on that across the industry--we need to make sure that leaders in AI, cloud infrastructure, in machine learning, in nanotech, in battery energy efficiencies, all come together and combine our capabilities and expose those to developers. And I think that's the big--the big next step, and that's where the race at the end of the day gets determined.

Who can expose this pervasive 5G network compute platform to developers in an open, intuitive, and programmable way, so that U.S. developers--there's no shortage of venture capital here, and there's no shortage of brilliant minds and developers. We need to get the platform built out. We've come maybe halfway. So 12 to 18 months from now, the platform should be truly built out nationwide and then get the developer ecosystem activated. And that's where we see other leading nations looking at private-public partnerships and other means to fund the innovation to happen on top of that 5G platform.

So at the end of the day, the 5G race is not the end game. It's a means to an end. We need to get the networks built out for the real innovation to happen. We saw it in 4G with all the innovation that happened on top of the 4G networks. I think 5G will be even bigger and even more important for--again, I think the bigger--I mean, it's the next generation Tesla, GEs, that will be built on top of this platform.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: Well, unfortunately, that's all the time that we have today. Thank you so much for joining us here, Niklas, at Washington Post Live. And I'll be right back.

[Video plays]

MS. MESERVE: 5G will transform our world, introducing new capabilities that will change many aspects of our lives and our industries.

Hello, I'm Jeanne Meserve, and joining me is Cristiano Amon. He is President and CEO of Qualcomm, Incorporated.

Let me ask you first of all, there's a global race to develop and deploy 5G. How important do you think it is that the U.S. take the lead?

MR. AMON: It's very important. This generation of wireless technology is different than any other Gs that we have seen before it. 5G will be the technology that will connect everyone and everything to the cloud 100 percent of the time, and will be the critical ingredient for the future of digital economy.

Nobody wants to be late to 5G, and we are seeing that right now in the speed of the global rollout. Just as an example, we're tracking two years faster the 4G-to-5G migration compared to what we saw from 3G-to-4G. We have now 170 operators across 70 countries with commercial service on 5G; and we have 443 operators across another 133 countries investing the network.

Just in the month of June, China sold 79 percent of all smart phones sold in that month was 5G. And it's obviously a race. As the technology that will enable the future cloud economy, no country wants to be late. Being late to 5G means not only have access to the new set of jobs and capabilities, but it's about having a competitive economy as we all move to digital and the cloud.

MS. MESERVE: Some of the top concerns right now, sustainability and job growth, how will 5G impact those?

MR. AMON: Look, you're right, 5G, besides fueling jobs--and we look, just in the United States, the potential to add 60 million jobs across all sectors directly related to 5G by 2025. We also are going to see benefits in sustainability. We will allow--5G will allow us to build a more sustainable economy without sacrificing growth.

Just to give an example, Jeanne, we expect 5G, when it's fully deployed by 2025 across all sectors, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States at a scale that is equivalent to taking 81 million cars off the road for a year. And its direct contribution to intelligent transportation will increase fuel efficiency by 20 percent. It's an incredible contribution to the overall sustainability as we make everything more productive and more efficient.

MS. MESERVE: Semiconductor supply chains are facing challenges. Are there some specific policies that you would like to see that would correct that?

MR. AMON: Yes. We have been very vocal about it. We're great believers in having a resilient and globally diverse supply chain. We're big supporters of the United States CHIPs Act. We applaud that, and it should have $52 billion destined to build a more resilient supply chain.

As one of the largest [audio distortion] semiconductor companies in the United States, we require a competitive supply chain. And if we all learn through this crisis that semiconductors are very important for our future, we need to make sure that the supply chain will meet our ambitions. And I think that it is great that not only the United States but other countries are really looking at the importance of having a resilient and geographically diverse semiconductor supply chain.

MS. MESERVE: Let me ask you about manufacturing. How will 5G impact that sector? Will there be new capabilities?

MR. AMON: Yes. And I will say a little bit more than new capabilities. It's really about delivering on the vision of the next industrial revolution.

What 5G will do, enable the ability to bring manufacturing back to the United States, to Europe, and other geographies and make it competitive, regardless of the scale. You can control a number of distributed manufacturing locations directly from the cloud.

And as an example, data from a center shows that just from '21 to '25, 5G directly has the potential to drive through 150 billion in new economic growth output in the United States, creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs.

MS. MESERVE: Cristiano Amon, President and CEO of Qualcomm, Incorporated, thanks so much for joining us.

Now, back to The Washington Post.

[Video plays]

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: Hi, I'm Cat Zakrzewski, a tech policy reporter here at The Washington Post. I wanted to continue today's program with Carolyn Lee, the Executive Director of the Manufacturing Institute.

Welcome, Carolyn, to Washington Post Live.

MS. LEE: Thank you, Cat. Thanks for having me, here.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: Thank you. And so, we've heard a lot about how 5G is going to change manufacturing at today's event so far. But I wanted to ask you, how do you see it changing jobs in the manufacturing space?

MS. LEE: Well, it's certainly going to change. Because it changes manufacturing and how we manufacture, it's going to change the skills required from the workforce in order to make these products, right, and to use the capabilities that come with 5G.

So, it's not only going to change the future as far as how we use products in our everyday consumer lives, it's going to change the job and enable manufacturing workers to do even more and to have more data at their fingertips to learn, to adjust, to be more agile more quickly than today's networks and today's technologies will allow. And so, it's really--it's opening up a whole new future. And as Cristiano just said, and Niklas before him, it's the things that we're going to build on this platform and then the new capabilities that are going to be built on top of that's really exciting, and we're still waiting to see what those will be.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And we've talked a little bit about how 5G can enable autonomous robots in the manufacturing sector. And in some instances, that would certainly, when you look at mining, like we were talking about earlier, and the safety concerns, there.

But those developments always do cause a little bit of anxiety for workers. I mean, what is your message to workers who might be concerned that 5G could bring greater automation that would destroy existing jobs?

MS. LEE: So, let me say, I don't subscribe to this notion that it is an either/or scenario. Automation is enabling and technology today is enabling manufacturing careers, manufacturing sector, and manufacturing workers.

Every single manufacturing employee I've talked to over these several years and said to them, what do you think about the automation? They're excited about the new abilities they have in their job to focus on the things that have inherently human skills at the heart of them. So, whether that's problem-solving or communication or innovating, those are things that are inherently human. And so, where we see automation, and where we see automation being brought more online is to replace single tasks or functions. And the humans at the heart of modern manufacturing are then enabled to do other things, and they're freed up to focus on those things that are more interesting.

Now, what's also important is right now in our sector we're facing unprecedented numbers of open jobs. We had over 889,000 open jobs in our sector because we don't have the people with the skills to fill them. And people don't know that these are jobs that are desirable and that have bright futures. So, we have this interesting discussion where there's this huge opportunity for new innovation; there's this huge opportunity for new workers to come from--to create this next future enabled by 5G, but we don't have the people with the skills. We need to make sure that we're providing those prerequisite skills in our K-12 schooling so that people are able to then come in. And we also need to change the message about manufacturing so people see and understand that creators are wanted, and that's a big part of our campaign that we're running with the National Association of Manufacturers to help fill these jobs, but that creators are wanted and the opportunities are tremendous for humans to be at the center of our competitive future and build and make that future.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And you mentioned that the people--that people don't have the right skills for these jobs that are available. Could you tell me a little bit more about what skills you need to see more of, and what type of training we need to get there.

MS. LEE: So, I mean, there--the number of types of jobs in manufacturing is just tremendous. We need everything from designers and innovators at R&D, you know, to production workers and assembly and equipment handlers and maintenance technicians. And so, there's a huge array; there's not one monolithic manufacturing job. And so, really, what we need people to know is that the careers are here, that they're high-paid. There's long job--career--a lot of ability to grow and continue to upscale.

But the fundamental skills that are the skills that, frankly, our Millennials and Gen Zs already gravitate to. You know, problem solving and communication, but also coding and working with technology to solve problems. And those are kind of the fundamental skills that we need to embed in all of our training programs as we continue to upscale that next generation of workers, and the workers that we have today to bring on and adjust and to work with this new technology. So, you know, if you're interested in solving problems, in saving lives, in creating new solutions or new games, all of that comes through modern manufacturing. And all of those jobs and skills are available for people to pursue. We just have to make sure people know that they're here.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: Is the federal government currently doing enough to facilitate that skills development?

MS. LEE: You know, I think there's no--there's no silver bullet for workforce development. It is a federal, state, and local--it is a community issue. That's why we work all across the country at the Manufacturing Institute, to help stand up local and regional manufacturing training programs, like the FAME apprenticeship program that was founded by Toyota and is now operated by the Institute.

So, you know, it is not--there's not an either/or. All of us are in this together. Manufacturing is at the heart of being a competitive economic power for the U.S. And so, we all need to work together. We need to make sure that there aren't barriers to access to short-term training that could lead to a really productive and high-paying job. So, things like making sure that Pell Grant--people are eligible to use Pell Grants for short-term training that might not lead to a degree but lead to a terrific job. Those kinds of changes are important and I know folks in Congress are considering that. But we also need to work with states and localities, that we're training for jobs that exist right now as people look for their new future.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And we heard a little bit about how the COVID pandemic affected Ericsson and forced them to turn to new technologies to open their factory.

Can you tell me a little bit about how the manufacturing sector has been transformed by COVID, and the role that you see 5G playing in this new normal moving forward?

MS. LEE: So, you know, I think I'm of the generation that we--I would refer to, like, Jetsons, right? There's this--you know, in movies, there's been this idea that you'll have this technology that you can see into another world. Well, that exists today in augmented reality.

So, where we--where COVID really had an impact is it accelerated a lot more flexible work. We all know that. We've had a tremendous shift. I think I've read some analysts say it's, like, ten years of evolution of how people work shoved into one year's experience due to COVID. Now, 95 percent of manufacturers stayed open during the pandemic, because they were essential. They were essential workers, either creating supplies and supplying PPE and the work around biopharma that allowed us to develop vaccine so quickly. And of course, all the food and daily products we use every day. So, manufacturing stayed open, but what we did is we worked differently. Where it was possible, people worked remotely, and that's where technology's enabled, why 5G and other technologies came in so handy.

Things like augmented reality, to have somebody virtually able to see what was happening at a physical site, so you could have a remote engineer working with production people on the floor to see what was happening with some of the machines, how products were being deployed, what was being produced, what challenges we'd be troubleshooting, and also making sure that you're ahead of maintenance. So, how we worked was different, but manufacturing kept operating and was so critical to us being able to get this far into the COVID response. And that's why these technologies coming to life, being used on the floor everyday was so critical. So, that's where, like, speed becomes so important.

So, both the previous speakers talked about speed of the network and latency. You know, it's not like you're downloading your Netflix and it takes a minute for the show to come all the way in. When you're operating real-time, you want to see what's happening. You want to understand what any challenges may be or to make sure that things are working correctly, so that data, that speed, that connection was critical. And that's why I think the sector is able to operate differently. We still have a huge challenge ahead by filling these jobs, but we're learning.

And the fascinating thing--and this is just one quick point on manufacturing--that not only are we using the 5G technology, we are making the things with 5G embedded in it. So, you know, we're right at the center. It's not that the technology sector is separate; they are manufacturers and they are making the future and it's an exciting place to be right now.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: Definitely. And related to that, I wanted to bring in a question that we have from a viewer.

Ronald Orr from Virginia, he asks, "Will 5G cause more remote work jobs?"

MS. LEE: I don't know if it will cause it. I think I'd say it might enable it. And I think what we've learned is that different jobs are going to operate differently. And I think all of us are sick of talking about, you know, the new reality or the new--it's been well-worn. But the reality is I think we're all learning how to do things differently. We're learning how to be efficient. But we still know that human interaction and human connection and human ingenuity is critical to our success.

And that's why I think people will be efficient. And they say, "Okay, you can be remote for this." I'm here remote today doing this interview. But then we come together to do things. And so, it's an all-of-technology--are enabling to workers and to, I think, our sector, and the overall economy. And so, I think that it's a really positive opportunity for us.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: You mentioned the role that manufacturing is playing in developing 5G technologies. And I wanted to turn to competition with China. What steps does the U.S. need to take to ensure that it's remaining competitive with China, as well as other countries like South Korea, when it comes to manufacturing new 5G tech?

MS. LEE: So, I think I take a kind of a bigger picture of it. At the Institute, we typically focus on competitiveness overall, but really on the workforce.

But I know one thing that's critical to manufacturing and our ability as a nation to compete are things like, you know, upgraded infrastructure. And that's why I know the National Association of Manufacturers and manufacturers across the country are so hopeful that infrastructure investment will come through and that that work will be able to--that investment will be able to be made, because that is the backbone of our economy, and that's what all of us need to operate on. And so, whether it's the roads and the bridges and the ports, which of course everybody is aware of the challenges we're having in supply chain right now because of, basically, traffic. But at the same point in time, the broadband investment and the buildout of our technology investment in infrastructure is really critical to make sure we continue to compete.

And the other thing I'd say on the workforce front is that we need to make sure that we're training for jobs that exist today and the jobs that are coming down the pike. You know, our work with Deloitte, we've long had a talent study that we released with Deloitte. We just released an updated one this past May. And what we found was, by 2030, we'd have 4 million jobs that we need to fill in the sector and, of those, over 2 million will go unfilled because we don't have the people with the skills who are coming to the sector and that are going to be able to make that future. And that's a trillion-dollar hit in 2030 alone if we don't fill these jobs. So, if we want to be able to compete in the global economy, we need to make sure we have the workers who have those skills who are ready to build that future.

And so, we need to come together to make sure that we're training, and incentivizing training, that's going to allow people to have those skills. But we need to make sure that people have a modern perspective about manufacturing and know that these are jobs that they should want, that there is huge upward mobility potential, and that these are fulfilling careers where you're building things and solving problems and innovating and being creative. And that's why we talk so often about creators being wanted, because we have to fill these jobs in order to compete.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: You mentioned the infrastructure package and how that is allocating funding to broadband deployment. Given the essential nature of 5G that we're talking today, should Congress, should the federal government have taken that opportunity to direct more funding toward 5G technologies?

MS. LEE: You know, I don't want--I want to stay in my lane on workforce and competitiveness. I think that the attention to infrastructure overall is critical. And whether it's your--you know, once you build something and you have the technology and you're enabled with 5G, you still have to be able to get your products places and you still have to use the physical infrastructure of the roads and the bridges. So, I think I'd argue an all-of-the-above solution is critical, and we need to make sure that we're staying competitive and we're staying modern in this country, and we're investing where we need to, to be able to meet that future.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And talking about this moment that we're in, the pandemic, worker safety has been top of mind, especially as we've seen outbreaks in some factories. And I wanted to ask you--there's been a lot of discussion about how 5G can better enable worker safety in some of these roles, but why couldn’t we get there with other existing technologies, like 4G or even WiFi. What's different about 5G and why do you think it's a gamechanger?

MS. LEE: Well, I think it's a gamechanger because you're enabling quick and real-time interaction. Now, there is a lot of great examples that we have throughout manufacturing in all parts of the sector where companies have done tremendous work to make sure their workers stay safe. And whether that's physical distancing, changing the way shift change happens so that you don't have one group going in and one group going out, enabling workers who could be remote to work remotely, using technology. And there's great examples for where that kept people safe. But we know with the pandemic we need a multiple layers of defense here. It's not just physical distancing. We need masks; we need vaccination. We need all of those things to enable--that we're protecting our workforce. And the workforce are manufacturers' most important resource. So, I know manufacturers were really doubling down to make sure that they were doing things to keep safe.

Now, our original header here for this segment was that 9 out of 10 manufacturers in a recent study we did said that they expect to deploy 5G technology before the end of this year and be testing it and deploying it. I think what that does is it allows us to go even faster into the 4.0 revolution to be able to adopt these technologies more quickly. And I think the thing that we've all learned, you know, in the last 20 years, is that we can't even predict all the things that we'll be able to do and that this technology will enable.

But we're off to a really good start and we know some really good options that are there. As Niklas talked about, digital twins and the ability to--using augmented reality to manipulate and to work deeply on a product while not having people there, and maybe teams from all over the world or all over the country. Those are hugely enabling to making sure that we're able to get the best minds and the best talent together to be able to solve these challenges. So, I'm hugely optimistic about what this technology is going to bring, and how that's going to enable us to create that future.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And I know we can't predict all the new jobs that this is going to create, but could you talk through a little bit--you mentioned a lot about these exciting creator roles throughout the segment. What are some of those specific jobs? What are some you've seen so far that you're most excited about?

MS. LEE: So, you know, there's the innovation jobs, right? There's the people who dream big and create things we never even thought of, right? Those are fascinating and those will be--there--will be needing more of those.

But we also then have people on the other side who have to maintain and troubleshoot and operate and engage with the technology that's coming. So, before the pandemic, I was on a tour of a jellybean factory out in the West Coast, and they had a 72-year-old employee who had been with the company for 35-40 years who, because of automation coming in, they were able to keep that employee and he was doing a slightly different job. He was helping engage the automation, the arm that was lifting and moving the stacks of pallets of jellybeans; whereas, before, without that technology, that worker in his 70s would have a hard time fulfilling that job. But now, he was using the technology to do the physical job he used to do.

So, you know, as we talk about what the skills are and what the job opportunities are, there's a huge range. We need people to maintain, to operate, to engage with, to code, to dream up and to build--you know, as somebody who's been part of manufacturing sector now for a long time, being able to go and see not only the products that we make but how we make the products that we use every day is just fascinating. And that's a really huge opportunity to see--to have somebody come in and imagine and say, "Okay, we have this capability. We have a high-speed, low-latency, real-time network, and how we can deploy that to do, fill in the blank. And that is the future that's coming. And so, the opportunities are just so vast. I think it's exciting.

MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And we just have time for one final question, and I know this topic of competitiveness with China has been front-and-center.

So, right now, when you look at the workforce skills issues that we've talked about, how do you think the current state of the U.S. workforce, how does that stack up to major U.S. competitors like China?

MS. LEE: You know, I think one of our challenges here is we are still overcoming this old, antiquated perception of manufacturing in our country--

[Technical difficulties]

MS. LEE: --manufacturing and understand and attract people in it so they know these are--

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MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: I'm so sorry. I think we're having some technical difficulties right now, but this is the conclusion of our program. So, thank you so much, Carolyn, for joining us today. What an interesting discussion. Thank you.


MS. ZAKRZEWSKI: And thank all of you watching at home, for joining us at Washington Post Live. I'm Cat Zakrzewski.

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