After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople

At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.

Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.

It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.

Now California is spending $6 million on a campaign to revive the reputation of vocational education, and $200 million to improve the delivery of it.

“It’s a cultural rebuild,” said Randy Emery, a welding instructor at the College of the Sequoias in California’s Central Valley.

Click here to read Mat Krupnick’s complete article published on the PBS.ORG website. 

Charleston to participate in national tech workforce initiative

One of the technology sector’s primary trade groups is embarking on an effort to boost professionals early in their careers, and Charleston will have a hand in it.

CompTIA says it’s launching a series of initiatives to help tech workers find jobs, get training and meet mentors. Nancy Hammervik, its executive vice president for industry relations, says the group is focused on a “confidence gap” in tech more than a skills gap.

The thinking is that CompTIA and other groups are capable of teaching technical skills in a matter of weeks, but that work doesn’t do much good if people are too intimidated to give the field a shot.

Read Thad Moore’s complete article on education and industry collaboration in South Carolina on the The Post and Courier website. 

Georgia Tech provides training in high-demand careers

Georgia employers spoke and the state listened.

In response to a critical need for skilled workers in several key industries, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal launched the High Demand Career Initiative in 2014. Initially, the state worked with key employers in strategic industries around the state to identify current and future workforce needs.

Now that these needs have been identified, the Universities and Technical College Systems of Georgia, including Georgia Tech’s Savannah Campus, have developed curricula to address workforce shortages and provide training in high-demand and well-paid careers.

Click here to read Bill Astary’s complete article published on the BiS website.

How early should kids begin STEM education?

Ohio children need high-quality pre-k education if they are to develop the STEM skills that will be in demand for 21st century jobs, a group of business and military leaders said this week.


A new report shows Ohio has a skills gap in science, technology, engineering and math. The report was prepared by ReadyNation, a nonprofit business group, and Mission: Readiness, a group of retired military leaders who work to ensure kids stay in school.

Click here to read Sarah Cavender’s complete article on Ohio STEM programming and the ReadyNation organization on the Dayton Daily News.

Career tech ed gets boost

A $75,000 grant has been awarded to enhance career and technical education (CTE) in the Wilkes County schools.

The funding is from the N.C. Workforce Development partnership, consisting of the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, N.C. Community College System and N.C. Department of Commerce. According to the N.C. Workforce Development website, the grants are awarded to reward local partnerships with positive outcomes through successful implementation of career pathways for students.

A partnership consisting of the Wilkes school system, Wilkes Community College, government agencies, local businesses and private contributors has been working for two years to develop career pathways with courses related to Project ADMIT, said Wayne Shepherd, CTE director for the Wilkes schools.

Click here to read more about the funding efforts in North Wilkesboro, NC posted on the Wilkes Journal-Patriot website.

Tackle Michigan’s skills gap

We’ve traveled the state talking with employers, and the message from them is clear: We can’t find enough people with in-demand skills to fill jobs that will help us grow and thrive.

And we also hear common concerns raised by our educators, who say they struggle to get more students into career-tech classrooms, or lack the staff and resources to get those classes in step with the current needs of the workplace.

We need to tackle these challenges.

Read the rest of Roger Curis and Brian Whiston’s article published on The Detriot News website.

Holcomb announces $20 million in job-creation grants

Despite a low unemployment rate, Indiana has about 95,000 job openings statewide, with another 1 million jobs expected to open up by 2025.

Filling those jobs will be daunting task, and it must be addressed now, Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said Monday as he announced two state grants that will put more than $20 million into workforce and employer training.

“Growing our workforce and making ourselves ready for this 21 Century … is something that we have been focused on every day since I took office. We know that here in the western part of the state, there are nearly 2,700 unfilled jobs right now, calling for that workforce,” Holcomb said.

Click here to read Howard Greninger’s entire artcile published on the Tribune Star website.

W.Va. hopes tech-voc education will remedy skills gap, opioid crisis

  • West Virginia wants to revive technical-vocational education in an effort to turn around the state’s economy, The New York Times (NYT) reports. Based on statistics from the Social Science Research Council, 17% of West Virginia’s young adults are neither working nor in school, a rate surpassed only by New Mexico, NYT says.
  • Educators are hoping to get the students ready for higher-skilled jobs in areas such as equipment maintenance or environmental compliance, instead of entry-level or dangerous jobs, such as laying pipeline, according to the report. As part of the training, students are given titles such as foreman or safety supervisor, punch a time clock and are allowed several vacation days.

Click here to read the entire article posted on the HR Dive website. 

Smart Food & Beverage Manufacturers are Looking at the Skills Gap Now

Consumer tastes change fast (one day it’s low salt, the next it’s no GMOs). Food and Beverage companies are doing everything they can to keep pace with that demand.

So when I read Food Engineering’s “State of Food Manufacturing” 2016 survey about the challenges facing food and beverage manufacturers, I was not surprised that the no. 1 trend changing manufacturing operations was automation.

But I was surprised that the no. 2 trend, lack of a skilled workforce, beat all the others, including food safety/regulations.

Click here to read Mary Burgoon’s article published on the Rockwell Automation website. 

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