Craft Training Center: Building the Future

Business, Corpus Christi, Education, Front Page, Opinion/Editorial

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     “My child is not cut out for a four-year university.”  This is the battle cry of parents whose children love to be outside, enjoy working with their hands, and can’t bear the thought of sitting in a classroom every day.  That’s where schools like the Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend comes in.  The students who successfully complete the programs offered at the CTC leave high school ready to go to work at jobs that pay well, offer great benefits, and provide much needed skills in their community, across the country, and around the world.  On April 1, 2016, The Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend (CTCCB) hosted the 2016 SkillsUSA State Championships in Welding, Masonry, Plumbing, and Electrical. Exhibits plus a Mobile Crane and Welding simulator were on site for educators, students, and local industry.  With the smell of barbecue in the air, students from around the state competed for prizes and scholarships while parents, community members, and industry specialists looked on.  What a treat it was to watch these young people work hard to do a job well!

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     Dr. Michael J. Sandroussi (Ed.D, University of Texas Pan American, MS, Corpus Christi State University, BS, Texas A & I University. NCCER Certifications: Primary Administrator, Master Trainer, SME Core) serves as the president of the center.  He, along with a highly specialized administrative staff and instructors who have Journeyman level experience and are NCCER (The National Center for Construction Education and Research) Certified, turn out scores of highly skilled craftsmen every year.  However, this won’t be enough to meet the needs of the next five years.  Sandroussi expects a deficit of 35,000 skilled craftsmen in South Texas by 2020.  He is not alone in his thinking.  According to the Associated General Contractors of America, the shortage is already being felt in every state in the nation and affects both residential and commercial project completion times.

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    “The industry is hiring people at quite a strong clip, but at the same time, contractors are saying they can’t find the folks with the skills they want,” said Ken Simonson, chief economist at Associated General Contractors of America. “They’re having to pull in people from other industries or people that haven’t done it before, which isn’t always something you can make do with.”
 
     According to the Manufacturing Institute’s analysis of the US Department of Labor statistics, “Over the next decade, nearly three and a half million manufacturing jobs likely need to be filled and the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled.There are two major contributing factors to the widening gap – baby boomer retirements and economic expansion. An estimated 2.7 million jobs are likely to be needed as a result of retirements of the existing workforce, while 700,000 jobs are likely to be created due to natural business growth.  In addition to retirements and economic expansion, other factors contribute to the shortage of skilled workforce, including loss of embedded knowledge due to movement of experienced workers, a negative image of the manufacturing industry among younger generations, lack of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills among workers, and a gradual decline of technical education programs in public high schools.”
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For students who don’t mind working hard, staying drug free, making a good wage, and learning a skill for life that can lead to financial independence, then this shortage could be seen as a great opportunity.  A four-year degree is not for everyone.  Not every high school graduate should be pushed down the traditional college path when other great options exist.  Training centers like the CTCCB offer an affordable, fast track to being a contributing member of society.  Becoming a skilled craftsman or an artisan is something of which to be proud and something that can open doors.  Many craftsman go into business for themselves, while others use their skills to earn money for a traditional college education.  For me, being married to a master bricklayer and stonemason, who has knowledge in all the construction trades, has saved us thousands of dollars over the years because he can do the work himself, something not many people can do.  Plus, it makes me swell with pride when we drive past a building or a house or a fence, and he humbly says, “I built that.”  Craftsmen leave their marks for all to admire.

Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.
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