Employees say that Apple encourages them to move within and across teams, and the company is instituting a formal program to allow workers to try a completely different role for six months to see it if suits them and the company. Brisa Carillo, who started out in the call center fresh out of college five years ago, now handles international payroll matters and is studying for her M.B.A. so she can move up the ranks of the finance department within Apple.
The region's economy has deep roots in technology and is home to a number of big tech employers, most notably Dell. Apple's influence in the area extends beyond the people on its direct payroll. It has 350 suppliers in Texas alone.
And about 3,400 construction workers helped build the Austin campus. Apple ensured that they all got paid at least $12 an hour. It also provided workers' compensation insurance and safety training, and it allowed the monitoring of conditions by an outside labor group, the Workers Defense Project, which has been trying to improve safety and pay in Texas construction.
"There is a high road, and Apple followed that path," said Bo Delp, director of the Better Builder program at the Workers Defense Project. "It sent a pretty strong message to others in Austin."
A mile from its Austin campus, Apple is involved in manufacturing, through Flex, a global contract manufacturer. Flex assembles Apple's Mac Pro desktop computers to meet the exact requirements of customers, who can choose among more than 4,000 combinations of features and hardware.
Flex added about 2,000 jobs for the Apple project. Although Apple and Flex declined to discuss details of their arrangement, the assembly jobs start at $11 an hour and pay an average of about $30,000 a year, according to testimony by Flex officials in 2014, when they sought government aid for the expansion.
Apple could in theory build more products in the United States through contractors like Flex. But the company and industrial experts say that would be very difficult and could easily add $100 to the final cost of an iPhone. China has built a whole ecosystem of suppliers for nearly every electronic part imaginable. Vast pools of trained labor make it easy to quickly scale production up or down to meet demand.
Larger products, or ones that require more customizing, such as PCs, make more sense to build close to the final customer.
"It's easy to ship a phone, and it's harder to ship a computer," said Andy Tsay, a professor at Santa Clara University who has studied global manufacturing patterns. "And it's harder still for cars and refrigerators."
Over time, the value of Apple's business is shifting away from hardware like the iPhone and into software such as apps and services like Apple Music, Mr. Tsay said. And those jobs can be much better for workers. "There are fewer industrial accidents working in a call center," he said. "There is probably more gender equity. And it's probably better for customers, too."
Alan Marquis, a former Army officer who spent a couple of years streamlining processes on a manufacturer's assembly line before joining Apple, now manages part of the complex software that integrates Apple's suppliers into the company's production systems. "Here, there's a lot more openness and creativity," he said. "In manufacturing, it's a lot more widgets dropping off the line."
Mayor Steve Adler of Austin, a Democrat, does not sweat the details of the jobs companies create in his city. He is more concerned that the work pays enough — at least $20 an hour — to support the city's middle class, which is being squeezed by rising home prices.
Some of the new jobs, like those at the Austin chip factory owned by Samsung, Apple's biggest rival in the smartphone business, will be in manufacturing. Others, like the ones Apple brings, will be in services. "The best kind of jobs are those that allow someone to continue to grow and climb the ladder," Mr. Adler said.
Asked about Apple's lack of manufacturing in the United States, Ms. Lopez said: "The product that Apple builds here is us."
Correction: November 20, 2016
An earlier version of this article misstated the education attained by Genny Lopez. She attended college for two years; she did not receive an associate's degree.
Read the original article here.