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October 1, 2008
I’m going to turn over most of this month’s Editor’s Page to feedback from readers, which I’m always glad to read and of which we receive far too little.
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Letters - Education key to getting young people interestedI read with interest your editorial in the August issue regarding the problem of getting students into the sheet metal and air-conditioning industry (“States need to consider students with other career interests,” Editor’s Page, August).
We have been addressing this issue on a local level for some time. There are some other dynamics that we have found enter the picture. One is the fact that an ambitious sheet metal worker feels his children must go to college for him to be considered a successful father and provider.
As a result, many young persons are being pushed into additional schooling because of a need to satisfy their parents’ egos. Another issue: When I was a youngster in school, it was determined by “they” - whomever “they” are - that it was necessary for me to go to school for 12 years to learn the basic information I needed. That being the case, it would seem logical to me that youngsters today would need to have at least two more years of schooling just to learn that basic information.
I say that because there is so much more to learn now than there was when I was in school. We didn’t have computers and all of the electronic items and certainly there is a lot more history to learn with everything that has happened since the 1950s. I think it is a good idea for a student to have at least two years of college just to learn such information. From there, I agree that there are many out there who would be much better working with their hands than continuing with college.
Here in the St. Louis area we have put together a program with St. Louis Community College where attendees of our sheet metal apprentice program will receive credit toward an associate degree at the college. The apprentices will need to take one or two additional college courses, but in conjunction with their apprentice training, they will earn a degree.
Apprentices will be able to say they have received a college degree, which should help parents’ ego issues, and with the additional courses help make them better apprentices and employees.
As we look at the demographics of the work force going forward, we are all going to have to be open minded in our thinking as to how we will satisfy the needs of our industry.
George “Butch” Welsch, president
Welsch Heating and Cooling
Column was wrong thinkingI do not agree that a company should put profits before people as Ruth King suggested in the August Snips (Contractor Cents, August).
If employees feel they are treated like “things” or “property” to be used and dropped, they will treat customers the same way and soon the company will have no customers.
There are a few people in the world who take advantage of any situation and need to be let go. The problem is that many owners and managers feel they should not trust any employee because of the bad actions of a few. The research on human behavior clearly shows that engaged employees are more productive than nonengaged employees. Engaged employees need to feel trusted, involved and valued.
Putting profits first leads to behaviors by managers that do not engage employees.
While we have all seen a few bad apples, the research shows - and my own experience confirms - that engaged employees make the most profit.
Dennis Sowards, president
Quality Support Services Inc.