Those seeking solutions to the “skills gap” or lack of qualified employees to fill U.S. technical jobs need look no further than the authoritative voice of franchising’s own Nicholas Pinchuk, chairman and CEO of Snap-on Incorporated. On Sept. 18, Pinchuk, who was honored as SkillsUSA Champion of the Year later that evening, told press conference attendees that U.S. workers are the backbone of the nation’s businesses.
“We’re in kind of a global competition. And the best thing we can do in this competition is to enable our workforce with career and technical education and support organizations like SkillsUSA,” said Pinchuk.
As experienced Baby Boomers leave the U.S. workforce, small businesses, like those in the franchise industry, will be challenged to fill those jobs calling for technical skills. Franchises that need machinists, production operators and technicians will be most affected.
Pinchuk compared the workforce of yesterday and today as energized and committed, but there is now more competition from other countries. He added that the American workforce needs to be armed and enabled. How? Pinchuk suggested these two steps:
- Industry must set standards so that students learn and gain skills needed in the actual marketplace.
- Technical education needs to become a national priority.
U.S. Department of Labor’s Assistant Secretary of Employment and Training Administration Jane Oates congratulated Pinchuk’s dedication to understanding the need for technical excellence. Oates shared a story about watching him walk the line at his facility and appreciating the workmanship he saw.
“The reality is, getting the qualifications for jobs in the 21st Century is hard work,” Oates said. In noting the importance of businesses partnering with SkillsUSA, she offered a look back: “Because when I took over this job, I said the first thing I have to do is to learn to speak more fluent business,” and it’s about listening to business.
SkillsUSA Executive Director Tim Lawrence described the organization’s mission as “to empower our members to become world-class workers and responsible American citizens,” by partnering with companies like Snap-on to provide career and technical education.” SkillsUSA affects more than 320,000 students in 3,700 secondary and post-secondary schools, serving them in 130 occupational skills.
“Technicians and skilled trade workers are the top two jobs employers are having difficulty filling worldwide,” Lawrence said.