Investing in Education is Paying it Forward

Our country needs well trained technicians. Let’s take a good look at the cost of technical education as an investment. A traditional college education is fine for many, but it is not meant for everyone. The return on investment of a typical 4-year degree program is becoming more questionable as common tuition costs have reached $50,000 + per year at many universities. In a soft professional job market, a young person is wise to look at all the career preparation options and there are plenty of them.

Vocational training and work experience are the best education options for many, particularly those who choose the skilled trades for their careers. Welding, machining and other metal fabrication skills certainly require education, mentoring and practice. All of that costs money, but the investment companies make in educating their employees can pay off in spades. For those employees, careers in these fields prove to be very rewarding and the acquired technical skills offer them mobility and stronger earning power.

Sending employees to school is an expensive investment. So is damage control from rework or crisis management, missing delivery deadlines and trying to salvage customer relationships. If you have a properly trained workforce, it’s much easier to get the job done right the first time and deliver on time. Isn’t it odd that there’s always enough time to redo a job correctly – the second time? The problem there is wasted time, materials and of course money.

Colleges that offer manufacturing technology application training such as blue print reading, tools of metrology, welding technology, metal fabricating, CNC machining and other skills to specifically serve the metal fabrication industry are few and far between. Here in New England, we are sorely lacking in such education options and that’s a shame.

There are engineering technology degree and certificate programs at community & tech colleges that focus on math, CAD and other high level engineering skills but few if any that teach machining, welding and hands-on metal fabrication skills. Search the academic catalogs of major universities and liberal arts colleges and you’ll find almost nothing to serve the educational needs of young or aspiring technical workers.

To get a quality hands-on education in metal fabrication and related skills, a student can find it in the Midwest at such schools as Hobart Institute, Hennepin Technical, Jefferson College and Moraine Park Technical. Very few people in New England have even heard of these colleges.

Skilled recruits coming in to the metal fabricating business are hard to find and companies like ours must do what we can to recruit at a distance or train them ourselves. It takes time to reach the level of journeyman or master technician. Workplace mentoring, apprenticeships and on-the-job training are necessities in a region where the education system isn’t producing enough skilled people.

The point here is that the higher education system can better serve the economic and business needs of the country in partnership with the manufacturing industries it professes to serve. With a skilled and well trained technical workforce in place, everyone in the community benefits.

Gilchrist Metal Fabricating has sponsored college credit courses such as blue print reading and tools of metrology. Additionally, soft skill training in team building, leadership, implementing change and giving/receiving constructive feedback help companies like ours serve our customers, grow and offer more job opportunities. We are currently sponsoring a series of college courses related to manufacturing and training for quality management programs such as ISO 9100, AISC Small Bridge and AS 9100.

Let us know what you think about the current state of education in the metal fabricating industry. Please feel free to call or email us: (603) 889-2600 | [email protected]