Workforce Development: Advancing Apprenticeships for Small Business

2:00 P.M. on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

This is a talk given today in Washington, DC by some independent business representatives at the Small Business Committee.  According to their website, the Small Business Committee has their priorities spelled out as they are access to capital, regulatory reform, increase in trade, tax simplification, and contracting to small businesses.  The (4) people who spoke were people representing small independent businesses.  What I find interesting is why this issue has been long ignored since the decline of manufacturing among the testimony, I interject opinions based on experience from years of dealing with manufacturers and manufacturing in industry.

There is shortage of skilled workers.  Well, yea.

When was the last time a welder or machinist job was considered high status?  Never.  When was a Computer Programming job considered high status?  For many years.  It’s really been a false narrative within American culture of Video Games, Movies and the Mass Media from the 1990s-present that getting your hands dirty is somehow bad or low skill or simply uninteresting.   Just ask Mike Rowe.

The speakers gave their opinions and input and represented small manufacturing companies, education and programming.

Ms. Tammy Simmons,  Machine Specialties, Inc. where she is Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing
located in  Whitsett, NC.  Ms. Simmons about recruiting at the High School levels.

Mr. Jeffrey Forrest, of College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, CA. explains the SWAG program. The skills gap is increasing.

Ms. Jeannine Kunz, Tooling U-SME, Vice President, Cleveland, OH.  She talks about competency versus time based learning.  Pre-Apprenticeship in high schools, Veterans, etc.  The health of small businesses is at risk, they are turning down orders because they do not have enough skilled workers.   She responds stating they need to “Reeducate the Educators”.  Hmmm.  Well, absolutely as many of the Educators do not have any clue about manufacturing, they are academics interested in promoting the narrative of pushing young people into college, when in fact they might not best be served with a 4 year degree and $100,000. minimum in student debt!   She later points out that these jobs pay $50,000 up to 6 figures.  These jobs are in high demand and increasing, so Educators need to be aware.   I say let parents know and the world know.  Get the word out differently in a disruptive way.

Mr. Jeff Mazur, Launch Code, Executive Director, St. Louis, MO.  They focus on Computer Programming versus manufacturing.  He naively sort of dismisses welding as it was though one type.  Please there are so many different types, sure not as many software languages, but welding isn’t some one type.   Competency credits that are measurable on experience.  Non time based program, employers need to define goals and judgement of skills competency.  Acceleration of learning is really crucial, as technology changes so rapidly.

Mr. Knight then gives his feedback about trade schools, community colleges- and definitions from employers of what skills are needed.  He asks how to reach out to young people more effectively, and pushing STEM.