Recently I had a long conversation with Tom Peters of Symbol Job Training Inc., a CNC operator training school in Skokie, IL (a Chicago suburb). For $5,340 his firm will teach you to be a beginner CNC lathe and mill operator in just four months. The company was started by Alex Kogan, who previously had a CNC job shop. Kogan, and his daughter (Tom Peters’ wife) run the school.
I like the idea that the school is a for-profit enterprise, though I’m still happy there are also community colleges and public initiatives out there to train new machinists. The more help the better to develop the machining staff that is the lifeblood of our industry.
I was amused and annoyed by a recent New York Times piece carping about North Carolina spending $1 million to develop a training school for future Caterpillar employees. The Times decried the training as a government gift to Cat. The cruel fact is that training is a prerequisite for any decent paying manufacturing job. A factory needs power, roads, and people with skills.
Alex Kogan’s school in Skokie is hoping companies will pony-up the tuition money for students or that it can hook into State and Federal money that’s out there. Veterans are also eligible for training funds.
The tide is finally starting to turn for manufacturing in the U.S. We need Caterpillar’s training program and NIMS, and schools like Symbol Job Training and Vo-Tech to keep the sector’s momentum. We also need industry leaders to tout the strong future of manufacturing in the U.S., like Kennametal’s Carlos Cardoza did in his speech at the National Press Club this week.
I think we are at a pivotal point right now. Generally the public perception is still locked up in the view that American manufacturing is as dead as Detroit. But Detroit isn’t dead, it just moved to Ann Arbor—literally and figuratively. Let 1,000 flowers bloom to pollinate the future.
Question: Should public spending subsidize training for big companies?