The Gap

The average skilled worker is 56 years old. By 2030 79 million people will have retired while only 41 million new workers will enter the workforce. Most vacated jobs will require training and expertise our young people are not getting. Few high schools still teach industrial arts and few students are aware of the many excellent job opportunities available to those with the proper skills and education. It's a little-known problem, but organizations like SkillsUSA are out to change that.

Not Your Father's Career

SkillsUSA, a nonprofit partnership of students, teachers and industry leaders, helps students prepare for careers in the trades or technical and skilled service fields—jobs in fields from computer-assisted drafting, carpentry, or machining to medical technology or culinary arts. "There are lots of really cool jobs out there," says Joseph Pietrantonio, vice president at Air Products, "but they require a core skill coupled with twenty-first century employability skills, such as the ability to work in teams, computer literacy, and good communications skills."

"What you learn in technical schools," says Nick Pinchuk, CEO of Snap-on, "focuses on particular aspects of the career you are preparing for, but also includes transferable skills as well, such as using computers and wielding complicated technical instruments."

"We are not promoting anything different [from other educational tracks]," says Don Whyte, president of National Center for Construction Education and Research, a SkillsUSA partner. "Many executives and business owners started in the crafts." With its national conference, championships and mentoring programs, SkillsUSA gets students on the road to success—and hopefully to closing the job gap.

 

Avery Hurt