Posts Tagged ‘technical skills’

Friends of CTE Blog: The Strength of America: It’s in the American Workforce and Technical Careers

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Nicholas T. Pinchuk is chairman and chief executive officer of Snap-on Incorporated, and serves on the Corporation’s board of directors. He was named president and chief operating officer in April 2007. He joined Snap-on in 2002. Mr. Pinchuk has been a strong advocate for career and technical education and has provided leadership in the development of new initiatives to link industry and education.

Nicholas T. Pinchuk is chairman and chief executive officer of Snap-on Incorporated

Ideas and Amplifiers

Harvard professor David Landes in his landmark book Wealth and Poverty of Nations recognizes that the success of our nation is rooted in our workforce. The American workforce – focused on individual aspirations and pursuing collective goals – has been our country’s strength for generations.

But, when we rise any morning and watch TV or read the newspaper, we hear that we are under challenge . . . that we’re in a global competition. Well, the best thing we can do in this conflict is to enable our workforce with Career Technical Education (CTE). This is the way forward . . . there is no more important task in contemporary America.

The American workforce has delivered us from evil, generation after generation. We’ve had brilliant people such as Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Henry Ford. Ford, like the others, had a groundbreaking idea but his vision would not have been actionable without an assisting amplifier.  And, he chose the greatest commercial amplifier of the day . . . the American workforce . . . committed, focused and energetic. In the process, he created the American auto industry and he got rich for it, as he should have.  But, along the way, he also created the opportunity to build prosperous and fulfilling lives for the millions of Americans who helped make his vision a reality.

The same story is true of Snap-on. We were founded on an innovation and the people from the state of Wisconsin helped take our products around the world and, in the process, built lives of fulfillment and prosperity for themselves and their successors.

Competitive Advantage in the Global Workforce

We know there are urgent challenges to our economy and to our workforce. Thirty percent of America’s manufacturing jobs have disappeared in the past 20 years. So what’s changed since Henry Ford? A lack of innovation . . . I don’t think so.  We can just look around and see that there are still many new ideas, clearly evident in the progress across modern America.

It’s not the American workforce.  Clearly…I can tell you, when I walk the hallways and the factory floors of Elizabethton, Tennessee, or Murphy, North Carolina, or Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I see the same commitment and focus and energy that I suspect Henry Ford saw all those years ago.

What is different is that when I tour those same passages in Shanghai or Delhi, as I do regularly, I also see commitment, focus and energy . . . I see a workforce hungry for advancement and motivated to build their own prosperity.

What has changed is that qualities like commitment and energy are no longer differentiating in the global competition to be the preferred enabling workforce for the ideas of today.

So, we can only win the global economic competition for broad prosperity by creating an advantage…by arming our workforce with capability and technical skills. If we learn anything from American history, it is that society advances through the hands, minds and hearts of its professional workers. In fact, America has consistently moved forward over the years on the brilliance of the few and on the efforts of the many.

Now, Snap-on is – I believe – a great example of what I’m talking about. We make 80 percent of what we sell in the United States right here in America. And, most of what we make has high labor content.  This  can be hard to accomplish successfully in a developed environment like the United States. We’re able to do it because we have a capable and flexible workforce, proximate to the world’s greatest market. This approach, using proximity and capability as an advantage, can be duplicated all across this country.  But, what’s needed is an American workforce armed with the right skills…a workforce enabled by technical education.

Industry and Government both must participate in this effort.  In that regard, I see two major areas of focus:

Industry needs to enable technical institutions.  We must ensure that schools are using the best equipment and facilities.  Industry also needs to help set standards for education so that students learn the specific skills that are necessary, that are actionable in the marketplace, and that can get them the jobs that create prosperity. That’s first.

Second, is that somewhere along the way, America – in my opinion – has lost a bit of its respect for technical occupations.  They are now often viewed as a consolation for not earning a four-year degree. Both Government and Industry need to work in tandem to change this view.  Young people must be encouraged to pursue technical professions.

The Clarion Call

People might recognize the importance of training for a technical career, but how do they react when someone close to them follows such a path?  I’m not sure…probably not so positively.  The truth is that technical education and the associated careers are viewed by many as a consolation prize.  Now, the facts don’t support this view.  But, there’s no denying that there is a gap between perception and reality for technical education.  It’s an optics problem that I believe must be remedied by leaders . . . national leadership from business, government and education.

During the space race, President Kennedy recognized that Americans felt threatened by the Russians with the launch of Sputnik. He appeared on national TV and said: “We are going to put a man on the moon in this decade.” He made it a national priority and young people all over this country viewed entering technical careers as a national calling.

Just like in the space race, we need to make skilled workforce training a national priority. And, we need to make skilled careers a national calling. Technical education must possess that kind of priority focus. That’s one reason why I’m so enthusiastic about student organizations like SkillsUSA. They enable young people with the capabilities they need to win the global competition, and they create an excitement so that these young men and women readily embrace technical learning and avidly pursue those careers with pride.

When some say the American worker is the problem, I say no . . . the American worker is the answer. But, the strength of any workforce is based on technical capabilities. As a nation, we must transform the view of a technical degree from being a consolation to an aspiration. We need to enable workers with both training and respect. Because of that, CTE and SkillsUSA have never been more important to assure a prosperous American future.

How Can You Get Involved?

Now is the time to act.  Form partnerships involving all stakeholders – education, industry and government.  Understand the skills requirements on a local level.  And celebrate technical education and career achievements at every opportunity.

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at euy@careertech.org.

By admin in News
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CTE in the News: W.Va. developing CTE courses to meet energy industry demands

Friday, October 5th, 2012

West Virginia education and industry leaders are collaborating to develop CTE courses in advanced energy, power and engineered systems in order to prepare students for high-demand jobs, according to an Associated Press article in The Republic.

The state Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Innovation is leading the work, which is aimed to meet workforce demands for the growing energy industry, the article said.

American Electric Power engineers have worked with the state since the project’s inception last year. The company is working with faculty from Marshall University, West Virginia University Institute of Technology, West Virginia University at Parkersburg and Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College, and also oil and gas industry representatives.

West Virginia is one of 12 states the Southern Regional Education Board selected to tackle the “Preparation for Tomorrow” curriculum for career technical centers. Each state must develop four standards-based, high-demand career technical courses that are aligned to the state’s economic needs and opportunities.

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By admin in News
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Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney Proposes Cutting Education Spending

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Last week Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his Plan for a Stronger Middle Class, which lays out his plan for increasing jobs and wages. In it, he proposes giving people greater access to affordable and effective higher education options, and focusing job training programs on skills that align with employment opportunities.

However, Governor Romney’s plan also indicates that as President he would immediately reduce non-defense discretionary spending by five percent. A five percent cut to the Department of Education’s discretionary spending would result in a reduction of $3.4 billion (based on FY12 discretionary appropriations).

The plan also calls for capping federal spending below 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Currently, total federal spending in FY12 is 23.4 percent of GDP. To reduce federal spending to 20 percent of GDP would require an aggregate cut of nine percent per year for the next decade. But since Governor Romney opposes cutting defense spending, as well as cutting Social Security for those 55 and over, that would actually result in cuts of between 29 and 40 percent for remaining programs over the next 10 years, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. And remember, these potential cuts to non-defense discretionary programs (like education) would be in addition to the cuts and spending caps currently required by the Budget Control Act.

Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By admin in Public Policy
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SkillsUSA Championships Highlight Career Ready Students

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Career Technical Education (CTE) students from across the nation recently were nationally recognized for their demonstration of occupational preparation and their employability skills — assets of high demand in today’s economy. Those students competed in the SkillsUSA Championships, which involved state competitions and an overall national event.

SkillsUSA estimates that 10,000 local-and state-level contests are held annually. More than 5,800 students competed representing every state and several territories during the national SkillsUSA Championships. Contests are designed, managed and judged by industry using industry standards to assess student mastery of technical, academic and employability skills.

The competition and the overall work of SkillsUSA aligns to the emphasis on industry certification in the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006, and the broader notion of preparing students to enter the workforce career ready.

Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager

By admin in News
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Friends of CTE Blog Series: Competitive Advantage Comes from CTE

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

John McGlade is the Chairman, President and CEO of the global gases and chemicals company, Air Products. Previously, he was named the CEO Champion of the Year by SkillsUSA for his leadership in supporting America’s highly-skilled workforce and promoting Career Technical Education. John also serves on the Board of Directors of the American Chemistry Council and the Executive Committee of the Council on Competitiveness.

Growing up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, I spent a good amount of my formative high school years at my local Career Technical Education (CTE) – then called vocational education — school. Now, as president and CEO of a global company, I can testify first hand to how CTE can help equip students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in their careers. Moreover, CTE has since evolved, proving to be as dynamic and innovative as the economy for which it is preparing students.

In fact, I believe that CTE can be a source of competitive advantage for the United States, by rebuilding a skilled workforce better trained than ever to compete in the global marketplace.

Demand and supply gap

We know that more scientists and engineers are needed to support the United States economy, but a broader look must be given to the overall demand for skilled workers.

Air Products employs about 7,500 people in the United States.

There is a mismatch between the demand and supply of skilled workers. Work opportunities exist, but sometimes it is difficult to find people to fill those jobs.  Air Products has openings, but we can’t always find people with the right skills in the right locations.  This situation contributes to the national unemployment rate of over 8 percent.

Creating a new technology workforce

Filling the skills gap will require higher expectations and greater investment in education and job training. Technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace. We need technicians that are not just mechanically trained, but who can operate electronic control systems and sophisticated, predictive maintenance technologies.

That means government must provide more support for CTE, directing additional funding so that schools, community colleges and technical schools can continue their great work and strengthen and expand quality CTE programs.

Our nation’s future

I cannot stress enough the importance of CTE to the U.S. economy. Not only do CTE programs help the new generation of workers with developing technical skills, they create well-rounded employees with 21st century employability skills — problem-solving, teamwork and leadership — to help them grow and succeed throughout the lifetime of their entire career.

Industries are eager to collaborate with schools and colleges that help foster the workforce of our next generation. We realize that we must develop strategic partnerships between industry and education to bring the best thinking and most current learning experiences to schools and colleges. In doing so, we can create future career opportunities for millions of Americans.

How Can You Get Involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at euy@careertech.org.

By admin in News
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CTE in the News: Why we Need Vocational Education (Career Technical Education)

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Career technical education at “both the secondary and post-secondary level should be highly-valued, well-funded, and effectively-implemented,” said Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University in a recent blog featured on the Washington Post.

Society must shed its negative notions about vocational education as a dumping ground for non-academic students if it wants to adequately prepare all students in the global economy, noted Phillips.

“This bias against vocational education is dysfunctional. It is destructive to our children. They should have the opportunity to be trained in whatever skills their natural gifts and preferences lead them to, rather than more or less condemning them to jobs they’ll find meaningless,” Phillips said in his blog.

“…It is also destructive to our society. Many of the skills most needed to compete in the global market of the 21st century are technical skills that fall into the technical/vocational area.”

Shifting perception and societal values around CTE will take time, he acknowledged, but quality CTE programs exist across the nation and their success with students will help to highlight their value, he noted.

Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager

By admin in News
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Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: Education Malfunction is a Myth

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Todd Thibodeaux is CompTIA president and CEO.

Is today’s education system failing our children?

Not necessarily. The problem may be that too many people are limiting the boundaries of what makes up our education system.

Think about it. A lot of folks with a stake in the matter are doing just that and results indicate the traditional college route isn’t cutting it when it comes to career opportunities for young people.

More states, school districts, government leaders and students themselves are demanding improved preparation in career readiness in the form of industry certifications and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs.

In our particular quadrant of the professional world, the technical industry, there’s a greater demand today for young people entering the professional world to gain real-world training not always available through traditional academic avenues.  Add to that the expense of a post-secondary education and one can certainly understand the growing acceptance and encouragement of CTE programs as a viable substitute for an academic
 degree.

 


A student who graduates with a high school degree and an industry certification has the opportunity to garner a well-paying position while pursuing an education to continue up the ladder on a career path.

In the past decade, language within the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act focused on the inclusion of industry certifications as a measure of what must be attained to enter many industries and careers has increased dramatically.

Just as CompTIA certifications come in the form of high-stakes exams, government programs must quantify success or lack thereof to determine individual student achievements and program viability. More and more employers not only are recommending, but requiring attainment of those credentials.

Studies have shown that student graduates of CTE programs have a higher grade-point-average and a higher rate of graduation than their peers in high school.

In a form of unprecedented joint commitment from U.S. government agencies this April, the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor promoted the use of career pathways as a “promising strategy” to help adults earn marketable skills and industry-recognized credentials toward employment. Career pathways such as CTE are to be a chief focus of integrated federal and state funding streams to advance higher levels of future education and better aligned training and employment.

Lest we forget Harvard University’s Pathways to Prosperity Project which balanced its illustration of an education system that has failed to engage students with a solution that has a strong emphasis on CTE?

All in all, actions within our academic, government and technical communities continue to align in favor of CTE programs as a valued method of preparing students to step foot in the workplace and succeed.

Today’s education system is not a failure. The boundaries of that traditional system just need to be expanded.

How Can You Get Involved?

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, to researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Erin Uy, Communications and Marketing Manager, at euy@careertech.org.

By admin in News
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Department’s Perkins Reauthorization Proposal Raises Questions and Concerns

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Yesterday Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and OVAE Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier unveiled Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education at Des Moines Area Community College in Ankeny, Iowa. This Blueprint outlines the Obama Administration’s plan for reauthorizing the Perkins Act, and revolves around the following four themes:

  1. Alignment: Effective alignment between high-quality CTE programs and labor market needs to equip students with 21st-century skills and prepare them for in-demand occupations in high-growth industry sectors;
  2. Collaboration:  Strong collaborations among secondary and postsecondary institutions, employers, and industry partners to improve the quality of CTE programs;
  3. Accountability: Meaningful accountability for improving academic outcomes and building technical and employability skills in CTE programs for all students, based upon common definitions and clear metrics for performance; and
  4. Innovation:  Increased emphasis on innovation supported by systemic reform of state policies and practices to support CTE implementation of effective practices at the local level.

 

While we support the themes encompassed in the Blueprint, we worry that the details related to each of these areas could have an adverse affect on CTE programs. For example, the proposal to award funds to consortia on a competitive basis could result in decreased, inequitable student access to high-quality CTE programs. You can read our joint statement with ACTE here. We will provide more detailed analysis in the coming days.

For more information from the Department of Education, you can access a summary of the Blueprint, as well as their press release.

 Nancy Conneely, Public Policy Manager

By admin in Legislation, Public Policy
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CTE in the News: The Transformation of American Factory Jobs, In One Company

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The evolution of a fuel-injector assembly line in Greenfield, South Carolina exemplifies the transformation of the manufacturing workforce taking place across the nation, according to a recent NPR story. Making it in America, the second piece in a two-part series, highlights the new and old demands of the manufacturing industry, which has moved from largely hiring low-skilled workers on the assembly line to high-skilled and more-educated workers.

The stories of the success and looming threats among Standard Motor Products employees buttresses the argument for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs that align to the economy and raises the rigor and skill attainment for its students.

The 92-year-old manufacturer has moved from hiring a workforce that was illiterate and did not earn their high school diploma to one that is more educated and has high skills to run sophisticated machinery.

“ ’Now it’s all finesse’ could be the motto of American manufacturing today. In factories around the country, manufacturing is becoming a high-tech, high-precision business. And not everyone has the finesse to run [these complicated machines],” the article said.

Closing the skills gap between those who can and cannot succeed in this new business remains the challenge.

By admin in News
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Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series: I LOVE MY JOB!

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Deanna Lewis serves as the Director for Career & Certification Services with the Home Builders Institute (HBI). Prior to joining HBI’s family in 2001, Lewis’ experiences included teaching at the elementary level where she developed a customized curriculum for transitional first grade students; managing the tri-state (Pennsylvania, New Jersey & Delaware) satellite office of the New York Times; and conducting test score interpretation as a consultant for the College Board.

During a recent visit, my plumber said, “I love my job!” as he was patiently answering my hundred and one questions without slowing down on the task at hand (he was getting paid by the hour). He said this before he gave me the bill. I’m sure he was enjoying his job even more as I wrote the check.

His comment, “I love my job,” left an impression on me. I began to wonder what happened to the passion tradesmen and women used to have for their jobs. That sense of excitement about learning plumbing systems or the concept that a carpenter’s work is his or her art. Is that passion still out there?

Will the Workforce be Ready?

It is predicted that by 2014 careers in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster will start to resume employment levels like those seen in 2007 and will exceed 2007 levels in 2015.[1] Will the industry have a workforce prepared to meet the demands? Carpenters are listed as one of the 30 occupations with the largest employment growth from 2008-18. The profession is categorized as requiring long-term on-the-job training.[2] Are there a sufficient number of trainees to fill the future demand?

Industry Opportunities – Choosing the Right Path

Construction offers opportunities at every level. It is an industry that still has career opportunities following high school. That does not imply that training stops at that point. Instead, it indicates there are still on-the-job training opportunities available. There are also certificate and two-year programs offered at technical schools and community colleges.  For management-level positions, many companies will require a four-year degree.

That being said, it is predicted that overall, 34 percent of the jobs in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster™ will require at least some postsecondary education and training by 2018.[1] Now is the time to engage youth. Inform them about the educational requirements to be successful in the industry. HBI currently offers a first step to professionalism through its student certification program, which sets the stage for stackable credentials.[4] The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) also provides information about the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster™ at http://www.careertech.org/career-clusters/landing-pages/architecture.html.

Educators Making a Difference

Career Technical Education (CTE) has programs in nearly 1,300 public high schools and 1,700 two-year-colleges[3]. HBI is a strong supporter of CTE because it meets our members’ needs and helps students, of all ages, become college and career ready so they have a lifetime of success. CTE programs do an excellent job preparing students for the industry opportunities identified above, but it is clear that instructors go far beyond just preparing students to work.

Stan Sluzenski’s students are bound to be on the right path to becoming industry professionals. Sluzenski, a Building Trades Instructor at St. Croix Regional Technical Center in Calais, Maine, utilizes his resources well to help his students gain respect and experience. He said, “As a teacher, I encounter the need for skilled workers from many different sources, including my local advisory board, community members and industry recruiters.”

The Spokane Home Builders Association in Spokane, Washington, is celebrating 31 years of changing lives and building futures. Kim Waseca-Love, Education/Apprenticeship Director captured the spirit of their program when she said, “Carpentry allows us to express our creative spirit.” Waseca-Love goes on to say, “We also know the feeling of accomplishment that we have when we look at our completed work.” She feels the instructors are the apprenticeship program’s key ingredient. “It is because of their qualifications and passion for the trade that our students are able to acquire all the educational opportunities they need to climb as high as they wish on the residential construction industry’s ladder of success.”

Educators such as Sluzenski and Waseca-Love are leading the charge for a knowledgeable workforce by making sure students interested in the construction industry know…

Just as important, though, they are instilling in their students a crucial passion for the work. It takes time to become a skilled professional in the construction industry. Hopefully, there will be many reaching that status who will chime in with the words . . . “I love my job!”

 

The Friends of CTE Guest Blog Series provides advocates – from business and industry, researchers and organizations – an opportunity to articulate their support for Career Technical Education. The monthly series features a guest blogger who provides their perspective on and
experience with CTE as it relates to policy, the economy and education.

Are you interested in being a guest blogger and expressing your support for CTE? Contact Melinda Findley Lloyd, Communications Consultant, at mlloyd@careertech.org.

 

[1] The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, “Career Clusters:  Forecasting Demand for High School through College Jobs 2008-2018”, Georgetown University, November 2011. http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/clusters-complete-update1.pdf

[2] United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic and Employment Projections Table 7. The 30 fastest-growing occupations, 2008-18, December 2009. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecopro.toc.htm

[3] National Center for Education Statistics.

[4] Home Builders Institute, http://www.hbicertification.org

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