Remember the show "Connections"? James Burke would take a current item, for example a computer, and trace back into history all the various seemingly unrelated events that had to connect to make computers possible today. I recently experienced a similar connection.
It started with a brief story in a newsletter published by the American Measuring Tool Manufacturers Association (AMTMA). The story presents information about a bill introduced in Congress last January. It's called The Skilled Workforce Enhancement Act and was introduced by Rep. Jim Talent (R-MO) to assist the metalworking industry in alleviating the shortage of skilled workers. It establishes a tax-credit for small shops willing to sponsor their workers in an in-house, four-year, 8,000-hour apprentice program. After these workers become journeymen, they must be hired for a minimum of one year after which the employer becomes eligible for a tax credit. The credit would be 80 percent of the wages paid to the apprentice during the four-year program—up to $100,000—and would be applied for in 20 percent increments beginning in the sixth year. (Details are on NTMA's web site http://ntma.org)
But, how many small shops have an 8,000-hour apprentice program on site?
Enter the first connection. It's called NIMS (National Institute for Metalworking Skills). NIMS accredits metalworking apprenticeship curriculums. These curriculums exist as pre-written courses that shops, without existing apprenticeship programs, can implement. Check them out at: http://www.nims-skills.org.
That takes care of existing metalworkers. But where will tomorrow's workforce come from?
Connection two is an initiative proposed by several metalworking associations, training organizations, and my publisher. It involves using IMTS as a metalworking recruitment tool. This proposal encourages metalworking professionals to visit a local school and arrange to address a selected class about metalworking as a career opportunity. At the same time, these professionals will invite the class to visit IMTS where they walk the class around the show floor. It is hoped that the kids will come away with a more positive view of metalworking as a career choice. To participate, contact Woody Hasemann, at AMT (703) 827-5283.
Connecting metalworking skills training, incentives to train and recruitment completes the picture.