Efficient Plant December 2017 - 6

column | editorial

Future
Skilled
Workers are
In School
Now
Gary L. Parr
Editorial Director

Supporting K-12 vocational and STEM
programs builds a foundation for
developing future skilled workers.

6

| EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

T

HE SKILLED-WORKER
shortage is so prevalent that it
even comes up in social conversation. At a recent social gathering,
I spoke with a friend who is involved in
union-member support and training for
a non-manufacturing trade. We were
talking in general about our respective
jobs and I mentioned this month's Industry Views feature (p. 14). I asked if he was
experiencing the same problem.
His answer was an unequivocal yes.
He then followed up with stories about
how the union has offered significant
incentives to entice people to enter
training programs, made adjustments
to provide easier access to training/
certification, and ultimately struggled
to fill large numbers of positions with
qualified workers. Success has been limited, and he doesn't see any near-term
solutions other than to keep banging
away at the problem.
We agreed that education is a
key catalyst, something that is supported by the responses I received to
this month's "Filling the Skills Gap"
question. We need to change the
"everyone-goes-to-college" mindset
and begin demonstrating to students
early on (middle school seems to be a
good starting point) that not everyone
must go to college and, with the proper
training, there are plenty of lifelongcareer jobs, with good pay and benefits,
available essentially immediately upon
certification.
This type of education outreach
cannot start and stop with students.
We need to demonstrate to parents
that it's not embarrassing to answer the
standard question, "Where's Betty going
to college?" by helping them understand
that when a child successfully completes

a vocational-training/trade-school
program, he/she will likely entertain
multiple job offers.
We also need to support educators
by providing them with what they need
to help students understand that a 4-yr.
degree is no longer the only path to a
rewarding career. Many other paths are
just as good and, for many students, may
be better choices.
Several respondents to this month's
workforce-development question have
integrated K-12 support into their
skills-gap and/or STEM efforts. Patti
Yocius, director of STEM Education
Development at Festo Didactic Inc.
(festo-didactic.com Eatontown, NJ),
described her company's approach this
way: "We recognize that teachers often
have limited STEM content knowledge
and are not familiar with applying the
engineering design process, which is
why we developed a turn-key solution
for secondary schools that ensures both
student and teacher are on a path toward
success. Our Integrative STEM program
puts students in control of their own
learning so they become better problem solvers and are better prepared for
the workforce. Students become active
learners, using hands-on equipment that
encourages problem solving, collaboration, teamwork, and critical thinking-
all skills essential to any industry."
I hope your organization is actively
working to fill the skills gap, not just
internally, but by working with others
in your community and supporting
educators. A good way to kick-start your
efforts is to participate in career-day
activities at your local schools and help
students develop a new vision of what
could lie ahead. EP
gparr@efficientplantmag.com

DECEMBER 2017


http://www.festo-didactic.com http://www.EFFICIENTPLANTMAG.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Efficient Plant December 2017

Efficient Plant December 2017 - 1
Efficient Plant December 2017 - Cover1
Efficient Plant December 2017 - Cover2
Efficient Plant December 2017 - 1
Efficient Plant December 2017 - 2
Efficient Plant December 2017 - 3
Efficient Plant December 2017 - 4
Efficient Plant December 2017 - 5
Efficient Plant December 2017 - 6
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