Bob Rice, senior vice president - global supply chain for Master Lock, shows President Barack Obama one of the company's Magnum locks during the president's tour of Master Lock's manufacturing plant in Milwaukee, Wisc., Wednesday, February 15, 2012. President Obama was on hand to discuss insourcing American manufacturing jobs following Master Lock's return of 100 jobs to its manufacturing plant from China over the last 18 months. (Photo: Business Wire)
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Bob Rice, senior vice president - global supply chain for Master Lock, shows President Barack Obama one of the company's Magnum locks during the president's tour of Master Lock's manufacturing plant in Milwaukee, Wisc., Wednesday, February 15, 2012. President Obama was on hand to discuss insourcing American manufacturing jobs following Master Lock's return of 100 jobs to its manufacturing plant from China over the last 18 months. (Photo: Business Wire)

When the President Obama recently visited the Master Lock factory he praised the company for its efforts to bring manufacturing jobs back to America and cited the company as “a proud example of what can happen when unions and employers work together to create good jobs.”

Good jobs come in many varieties and span all industries. While college educated people may make more money over their lifetimes, many thoughtful people are beginning to wake up to a realization that doing what you like to do, may be more important than how much you earn doing it. After all, there are a lot of miserable, rich people. In my opinion, the idea that every child needs to get four years of college to be successful, is one of those societal myths that have been oversold by higher education and those who have an interest in creating and selling educational financing options. The next dot com/housing bubble, financial crash might very well be centered on student loans. Those at the Master Lock event however, were flirting with less controversial, yet still related thoughts.

John Heppner, Master Lock president and chief executive officer took the opportunity to highlight a theme that seems to be coming up more and more in talks about the nation’s educational priorities.

The number of young people exposed to skilled labor trades through education or family and friends is declining while our current skilled labor workforce is aging. At Master Lock, we partner with trade schools and other educational institutions to help inspire young workers to choose careers in skilled labor. We encourage our government and other businesses to engage with these organizations and invest in training future generations in skilled labor careers.

Heppner’s company was recently recognized for its “insourcing” efforts, and he advanced a couple of ideas for improving the manufacturing sector.

1. Improve access to skilled labor in North America.  He said Master Lock partners with trade schools and other educational institutions to help inspire young workers to choose careers in skilled labor. It also encourages the government and other businesses to engage with those organizations and invest in training future generations in skilled labor careers. Master Lock has established partnerships with local technical colleges and universities to help them improve their recruiting and curriculum development to encourage students to train for skilled labor jobs.

2. Innovate the supply chain structure in North America. Master Lock is leveraging its expertise in automation and lean manufacturing principles while exploring opportunities to improve efficiencies and productivity, that will hopefully result in additional skilled labor jobs in the future.

This is not rocket science, and it is a theme that construction knows all to well. Then too, we all really do know that not everybody can, or wants to be an engineer, or medical researcher, or lawyer or doctor or university professor or rocket scientist. The secret is to help people identify their passions early in life, and then provide ways for them to get the training and encouragement needed so they can live that passion.

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