By AWB President Kris Johnson
As many as 740,000 good-paying jobs in the state's manufacturing sector are open. These are jobs that often require a trade certificate or a two-year degree.
Filling all those hands-on jobs means we must rethink not only how we close the skills gap, but also the "interest gap" for the next generation of builders, welders and makers.
Too often, these good-paying career pathways take a backseat to a four-year degree track. The good news is that both tracks -- the trades and a bachelor's degree -- can be equally successful.
I recently traveled to Switzerland with the governor and a group of business leaders and education experts from across the state to look at the country's successful and robust apprenticeship programs, which are geared toward engaging 16-19-year-olds in meaningful work.
In the Swiss system, young apprentices can easily shift career paths or seek higher education after earning their initial training diploma. It's focused on options and opportunities -- right after graduation and into the future. I heard from several young people who said they were "finished" with the classroom by ninth grade and eager to work with their hands...