Fortune has truly smiled on me. Through my years as an editor, I have been exposed to the collective wisdom and business savvy of industry leaders at every turn through personal relationships and by attending numerous conferences and trade shows. The lessons and experiences recounted by these leaders were many and varied. And yet, from an operational standpoint, there was always one common gripe that seemed to pervade each metalworking sector I have ever covered – the shortage of skilled and reliable workers.
During my professional career, I witnessed the decline of manufacturing’s importance in this country and have seen the gradual shifting of educational programs away from vocational pursuits toward our increasingly information-based and service-oriented economy. Sad as these changes may have been, they corresponded to a myriad of plant closings and job losses across all types of manufacturing industries during the past few decades. This happened as the world shifted its focus toward Asia and part of the Pacific Rim as its manufacturers of choice.