An Opportunity To Touch The Future

In a society that so heavily extols post-graduate education, individuals with trade skills and a strong work ethic are often left behind. Machining may no longer be considered a noble occupation, yet it is absolutely critical to daily living.

Columns From: 6/1/2001 Modern Machine Shop,

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In a society that so heavily extols post-graduate education, individuals with trade skills and a strong work ethic are often left behind. Machining may no longer be considered a noble occupation, yet it is absolutely critical to daily living. And, as national technology, manufacturing and exporting businesses grow, the number of technicians declines.

In Workforce 2020, the sequel to the Hudson Institute's landmark study Workforce 2000, Richard W. Judy and Carol D'Amico predict, "Manufacturing will continue to dominate U.S. exports. Almost 20 percent of U.S. manufacturing workers now have jobs that depend on exports; that figure will continue to escalate. America's growing export dependence in the early 21st century will benefit most of America's highly productive workers, because many foreign economies will continue to expand more rapidly than our own, thereby generating massive demand for U.S. goods. Skilled workers whose jobs depend on exports are better paid than other U.S. manufacturing workers because the United States enjoys a comparative advantage in specialized manufacturing and sectors that create their jobs. These workers also tend to earn more than similar workers in other countries.

"But globalization will affect low-skilled or unskilled American workers very differently. They will compete for jobs and wages not just with their counterparts across town or in other parts of the United States, but also with low-skilled workers around the globe. As labor costs become more important to manufacturers, the United States will retain almost no comparative advantage in low-skilled manufacturing. Jobs in that sector will disappear or be available only at depressed wages."

These predictions bode well for the high skilled workforce, yet we frequently hear that today's young people will not have the skills to help our nation survive in the global economy. Frequent media reports about teen violence, declining test scores and apathetic behavior may convince you that today's youth may never be tomorrow's leaders. Allow me to paint a more positive picture. This year, over one-quarter million students nationwide have made the commitment to technical careers. They've also made the choice to become leaders in their schools and communities. These students are members of SkillsUSA-VICA.

If you want a firsthand look at these students—in particular, students in metalworking training programs—come to Kansas City, Missouri, June 27 and 28, for the SkillsUSA-VICA National Leadership Conference and SkillsUSA Championships. At this event, the best of these students will be demonstrating skills in precision machining technology, automated manufacturing technology, industrial maintenance technology/mechatronics, robotics and automation technology, technical computer applications, technical drafting, sheet metal, welding, 3D visualization and animation, and more. Others will attend who have chosen to be leaders. They will compete in total quality management, community service, extemporaneous speaking, job interviewing skills, and occupational health and safety.

The SkillsUSA Championships is the greatest show of corporate volunteerism in a single-day event in the United States. It is also the world's largest showcase of public education, career and technical skills.

AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology, the National Institute for Metalworking Skills Inc., the National Tooling and Machining Association and a host of national corporations support this event, set standards and evaluate students' work. This event is one of the only venues in the nation that promotes an interface between business and education. Here, business representatives work hands-on with students, as teachers watch and learn to take constantly changing skills and standards back to their schools.

If you want to be among the many corporations to glimpse our nation's future, if you want to be on hand to support the success of SkillsUSA programs, if you want to see the positive accomplishments of our young people, this is where you need to be. Come see the best in the nation in manufacturing. Come see the future.

For more information about SkillsUSA-VICA, visit our Web site www.skillsusa.org. For more information on attending the National Leadership Conference and SkillsUSA Championships as a special business and industry guest, contact Karen Beatty at (703) 737-0624.

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