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Planning Sustainable Jobs Now and After COVID-19

Oped by Commissioner Cook

  • 16 April 2020
  • Author: Doris Sanchez
  • Number of views: 2697

In 2018, Deliotte and the Manufacturing Institute conducted a study on the skills gap and future for jobs in many areas of manufacturing.

The study found that manufacturing industries are projecting 2.4 million unfulfilled jobs by 2028, with a potential loss of $454 billion in loss of product in 2028 alone.

As tuition at four-year colleges and universities escalated through the years, community colleges transitioned from being training grounds for many of the trade skills to becoming prep schools for students wanting to transfer to these four-year institutions, saving students costs overall. 

Meanwhile America’s colleges and universities have kept pumping out people with limited employment skills beyond minimum wage service industries.

Just look around and notice “Now Hiring” signs on trucks, billboards, social media (including Facebook ads), entrances to industrial businesses, flyers and nearly every company’s website.

Skilled “human-machine” teaming is necessary for the increasingly complicated equipment and processes industries require.

Many are calling this era the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” as machinery and equipment have gotten more sophisticated.” In this transformed digital workspace, employers also will continue demanding these individual human skills in their workforce:

Critical thinking

  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Attention to detail
  • Problem-solving
  • People management

My brother in North Carolina owns an HVAC business and has been struggling for years to find enough workers with the appropriate soft skills to fill his residential and commercial positions. He now is adding a plumbing group, and his daughter will head that division. 

With her bachelor’s degree in business, she has helped grow their HVAC company. She’s now training and completing an internship in plumbing to develop the skills to competently manage and grow the new plumbing division.

Schools and companies must produce appealing programs to attract the younger generations to the trades to establish a long-lasting workforce.

They must also “sell” the idea of an apprenticeship program to parents by helping them recognize that their kids may be motivated to work using their hands and their heads, and I don’t mean just typing. 

Although people associate apprenticeships with unions which started these programs, today any business can start or run an apprenticeship program. Many community and technical colleges are now offering apprenticeships.

A business can offer an apprenticeship to train current workers to perform functions differently or to train new workers. Apprenticeships are not just for high school graduates or unemployed people, but also for trade and economically dislocated workers, veterans, disabled people, or college, career and trade school participants.

We pay for registered apprenticeships with our tax dollars. They can create a more flexible workforce through higher skills, cultural and gender diversification, and a talent pipeline of skilled workers for future workforce needs, especially during these trying times.

And the best news is that you get a full-time paycheck while working through an apprenticeship.  There are at least three registered apprenticeships in Round Rock: Ventana Glass and TDIndustries for HVAC and plumbing.

Stay safe and well!

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