Thomas Buckman, an industrial technol- ogy teacher at Burlington Community High School in Iowa, called the editorial offices in
early December looking for an electronic copy of a
story and some respect for his program.
The PDF contained a summary of FABTECH® 2015,
which was held in November in Chicago, and included a mention of the winners of the “Best Welder in
America” contest. One of the winners, Aaron Oetken,
a self-employed welder/fabricator from Mediapolis,
Iowa, just happened to be a former student of Buckman’s. Oetken and the two other winners—Tom Ruge,
a student at Gateway Technical College, Racine, Wis.,
and Andrew Miller, a Caterpillar welding engineer,
Dunlap, Ill.—graded the highest in terms of speed
and quality for a single-pass shielded metal arc weld
with an E7018 stick electrode on low-carbon steel.
Buckman said he wanted to share the PDF with
co-workers, just to prove that one of the students
that came out of the industrial technology department was making a name for himself. In fact, the
PDF was to prove that the program had produced
one of the best in the welding field.
“They think we’re just having fun down here making things,” he said of his teaching co-workers.
Buckman and other educators and trainers are
doing much more than that. They are not only replenishing the ranks of skilled workers who are
growing gray and readying for retirement, they are
making a generation of entrepreneurs. They are creating future job creators.
Sound foolish? Think again.
Since the end of the Great Recession, the U.S. manufacturing sector has added 646,000 jobs as of May
2014, and manufacturing companies are looking for
talent to fill 243,000 open positions, according to the
U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic and Statistics Administration (ESA). The President’s Council
of Economic Advisors has analyzed the numbers and
suggests that this isn’t just a typical rebound; they
suggest that the U.S. has gained about four times
as many manufacturing jobs since 2009 than would
normally be expected in a typical recovery.
In its “Manufacturing Since the Great Recession”
report, the ESA reveals that a large majority of these
jobs came in fabricating-intensive industries. Research indicates that 87 percent of the job gains in
manufacturing since the last recession have been
in the transportation equipment, fabricated metal
products, and machinery sectors. That’s a lot of potential fabricating shop owners.
Of course, this manufacturing recovery is more
robust in certain areas than in others, and the economic landscape has changed somewhat with the
collapse of prices for commodities such as oil and
some agricultural products. But fabricators generally
have skills that travel and that are in demand. If they
are not rooted to one geographic area because of a
spouse’s job, financial hurdles, or family obligations,
they can hit the road and seek out opportunity.
One might say that the only thing a fabricator
needs besides skill, a good work ethic, a truck, and
some basic equipment is a garage. In all honesty, it
seems like every successful job shop started in one.
Buckman has every right to be proud of his work
and the students he turns out. These graduates
have an immediate chance to be successful. Those
following the traditional four-year college plan—
if the student is focused—also have a delayed
chance for success, but possibly at the expense of
some baggage upon graduation. That baggage typi-
cally is defined as a lot of student loans and a lack
of specific skills that are immediately transferrable
in the real world.
In fact, Goldman Sachs is saying that because college is so expensive, it may not be worth the money
anymore. The financial firm estimated that in 2010
a typical college student needed eight years of work
experience to pay for the investment made in a
bachelor’s degree. That would put most graduates
to around 30 years old by the time they broke even.
Goldman Sachs said 2030 graduates won’t break
even until 33.
Students enrolled in two-year or even certain
fast-track programs in industrial technology careers
don’t have to worry about that. They can start honing their talent right way, making the right contacts,
and planning their career path with the current employer, another company, or on their own.
The next generation of skilled workers is generating the next wave of successful entrepreneurs.
Even in the global economy, U.S. companies need
locally sourced complex metal parts and assemblies
for a variety of reasons. They can get 1 million steel
brackets from China, but the trailer that transports
them from the port to the U.S. manufacturer is going to be made domestically. That kind of work is
not going to go away.
Buckman and his peers are making things. They
are making a brighter future for the U.S. economy.
This PDF’s for you!
EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD
Inalfa Roof Systems
Metal Locking Service
Aperam Stainless Solutions USA
Iowa State University
FMA OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS
Chairman of the Board
Al Zelt, ASKO Inc.
First Vice Chairman
Texas ProFab Corp.
Second Vice Chairman
William “Jeff” Jeffery
Chairman of the Board
Edwin Stanley, GH Metal Solutions
Superior Joining Technologies Inc.
Affiliations Unlimited Inc.
Rick J. Hargrove
Steel & Pipe Supply Co. Inc.,
Storage & Processors
Kawasaki Motors Mfg. Corp. USA
Amada America Inc.
MC Machinery Systems/Mitsubishi Laser
Mary Ellen Mika
Rafter Equipment Corp.
Ohio Laser LLC
Super Steel LLC
President & CEO
Fabricators & Manufacturers Assoc. Intl.
FMA’S CERTIFIED EDUCATION CENTERS
FMA Certified Education Centers (CEC) are community
and technical colleges, trade schools, and universities
that specialize in training adults for careers in the metal
forming, fabricating, processing, and machining sectors.
They offer coursework for local students year-round and
serve as host locations for many types of FMA professional
development programs as requested. A council of members convene six times a year to plan and execute special
programs on worker training for educators and human
resource managers from companies of all sizes.
To learn more about FMA’s CEC program and view a list
of the current member schools, visit www.fmanet.org/
To discover how your local community or technical college
can become a member, call 888-394-4362 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Read more from Dan Davis at www.thefabricator.com/author/dan-davis
Try future job creators
The next generation of skilled workers will be the
next generation of successful entrepreneurs
One might say that the only thing
a fabricator needs besides skill,
a good work ethic, a truck, and
some basic equipment is a garage.
In all honesty, it seems like every
successful job shop started in one.