Saturday, May 31, 2014

It’s Time to Rebuild our Workforce

And, remember those who served

By: Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.

On this Memorial Day morning, I find myself thinking of lost family members and those who fought and died so that each of us can live a free and wonderful life.

Coincidentally, at about the same time I was writing this article, the Black Diamond Jet Team flew over my house as they prepared for the traditional Indianapolis 500 flyover. This reminded me that for generations, the American military has not only served the needs of our country, but also for the freedom of oppressed peoples around the globe.

Just as we rebuilt our economy after wars, we find ourselves rebuilding after years of economic struggle. Although many causes and symptoms remain, our economy is beginning to show encouraging signs of recovery. There is still work to do, and we need to be smart about it.

As long as I can remember, parents have been telling their children that the ticket to a better life is a college education, and I certainly agree. For some, though, a back of back-breaking toil still exists. My Dad spent much of his life feeding the family through physical labor. It was respectable work, but physically demanding. As an electrician, he climbed poles for the local rural electric cooperative, wired houses, and served as an electrician in a factory. Like many jobs, these are changing dramatically.

Parents, guidance counsellors, teachers, and school administrators, in a quest to get students into a four-year university, often stereotype factory work as dirty, stinky, dangerous, physically demanding, and a place where unskilled people end up. As economic developers, we need to educate the parents and educators about the realities of today’s factories, food processors, distribution centers and other places where workers make stuff. They are well intentioned, but often just ignorant of today’s realities.

The fact is that some young people, for whatever reason, won’t attend a four-year school. Sometimes it’s due to less-than-ideal grades, or maybe the young person doesn’t fit into a university environment. In many cases, the person is someone who enjoys working with his or her hands. For this person, community colleges often hold the key. A certificate program in welding, CNC operation, machine maintenance, or other program may provide just what is needed for a fulfilling and comfortable life.

Today’s facilities are bright, clean, safe, and utilize some of the most advanced technology in the world. The jobs are available, in huge demand, and pay very well. Who would have thought that a CNC operator would earn $125,000 a year turning our engine parts?

At a time when many communities are racing to prepare Certified Business Parks and erect spec shell buildings, many are also working hard to prepare a trained spec workforce. When a prospect calls, the sites, buildings, and workforce are ready to roll.

On this solemn day, when we honor those who gave so much for our country, I suggest that one way to honor their service is to prepare for an economy that will fuel our nation’s economic recovery and lead the world for generations to come. As a reminder to yourself, be sure to fly your flag, too.

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share your thoughts and personal experiences below.

Have a great week and I’ll see you soon,

Jim Walton
Brand Acceleration, Inc.
Branding // Marketing Communications // Public Relations
Indianapolis: 317.536.6255
Fax: 317.222.1425
Cell: 317.523.7380

Brand Acceleration is a full-service marketing communications, brand management and website development firm with a focus on community and economic development.

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