The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Foundation recently discussed the skills “gap” on the syndicated radio program “America’s Business.”

Terrance Egan, director of the association, was joined on the radio show by John Ratzenberger, former star of TV’s “Cheers” and the host of the Travel’s Channel’s “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America.”

During the interview, Ratzenberger, co-founder of the Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to introducing young people to the pleasures of tinkering, addressed the importance of introducing young people to manufacturing jobs to train tomorrow’s work force.

“We must encourage kids when they graduate from high school to look at manufacturing as a career,” he said. “Part of the problem is the media and Hollywood often portray manufacturing in a poor light, denigrating anyone who works with their hands. I also think the industry goes about it the wrong way. I’ve seen pamphlets, printed books and handouts and they are all rather dull.”

Ratzenberger said his foundation’s approach is to talk about programs that honor people who work with their hands.

“We need to do a better job of informing children that it’s not a bad thing to work in a factory,” he said.

Egan noted how the FMA Foundation has joined forces with the NBTF to promote manufacturing by sponsoring 20 camps nationwide that introduce young people ages 12 to 16 to careers in the industry.

“The FMA Foundation is dedicated to reaching younger people through camps and extending that pipeline to an age where kids are finding out who they are,” Egan said on the program. “By teaming up with local trade or technical schools, children who attend typical summer camps also can learn about designing three-dimensional parts or building something. The camps give the kids a tangible experience to make something that they can be proud of and take home with them at the end of the week.”

Egan believes one key to attracting kids to manufacturing is through technology, stressing that the FMA consists of many technology companies. He cited members that cut steel with laser lights, specialize in plasma cutting, do laser welding or operate robotics.

“Let’s get kids off the gaming consoles and show them they can use technologies even more advanced than those little boxes on their TV,” Egan told listeners. “Let’s teach them that they can learn how to operate the most advanced technology in the world.”

“America’s Business,” sponsored by the National Association of Manufacturing, is a one-hour radio program heard on more than 80 stations nationwide that delves into the issues that shape manufacturing and business in the United States and abroad.

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