Based off my personal experience in the industry, I’ve seen the skilled workforce start to dwindle as older generations enter retirement and new, young workers enter the force. I firmly believe that it is not that the younger generations don’t have the drive or ability to work in this industry; but that they are not being exposed as generations before us once were. They are being pushed in the direction of a four year college education, and for most that may be a great path; however, for others this may not be a suitable career path. It is our responsibility as adults and as educators to expose our students to as many things as possible. The majority of Industrial Technology programs are heavily focused around cabinetry and furniture fabrication. While I see the importance of those woodworking skills as hands-on life skills; the practical application in regards to finding a career after high school, for most students, is somewhat unrealistic. I strongly believe that the purpose of the Industrial Technology program at Central Lyon and all other schools around the country should be to expose students to as many skilled trades as possible. Not only to facilitate and promote well-rounded students, but also to uncover interests that they may not have known were there.
The obstacle I face as the liaison between student and industry is figuring out the most efficient way of exposing students without taking away work from established companies in the area. In talking with various people in the community I was presented with an idea that, I believe, can bridge the gap between theory and hands-on – Tiny Homes. A tiny home is just what it sounds like; a miniature version of a wood framed house. The only difference is that it is fixed to a trailer so it is able to be mobilized. Tiny homes would be beneficial for the program for various reasons. Mainly, it would give students the ability to take theory from the classroom and physically complete tasks during each phase of the building process (i.e. framing, cabinetry, metal fabrication, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc.).
In addition to the wide variety of exposure this project provides, the students are also going to have the opportunity to work with many local business. I have contacted businesses in the area and have gotten very positive feedback. Each company that I’ve spoken with has verbalized their support; some businesses even offered to provide demonstrations, be available for questions, and were excited about the opportunity to be able to help teach the next generation of workers.