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WC Area Technology Center Carpentry Class students define the skills gap

Students working on assignments in ATC Carpentry classroom

WC Area Technology Center Carpentry Class students define the skills gap

      Joshua Parmley’s carpentry students ‘nailed it’ on a recently completed one-page essay assignment on how to close the skills gap for potential employees applying to local businesses. The carpentry classes, as well as all the other practical vocational programs at the new Area Technology Center are bustling with activity again, since more of the students’ have returned to in-person learning and can participate in the hands-on learning labs that adjoin their classrooms. ATC students are benefiting from a wide range of state-of-the-art instruction which includes everything from high tech automotive to the latest trends in agriculture classes.

     The new state-of-the-art ATC definitely has the nod of approval from students. For instance, 16-year-old Hailie Wise appreciates the size, quality, and resources the new building has to offer. The junior said the carpentry shop class is “way better and bigger” than at the previous location. As a freshman, she was accidentally placed in the carpentry class when she made her schedule. But, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “I just loved it. It was so fun…we made a toolbox and a bird house,” recalled Hailie.

     Fast forward two years which includes a gap from the pandemic. She is happy she returned to classes, since she is able to continue working on building framework in the Exterior/Interior lab first period.  Working in the construction lab came to a grinding halt at the height of the pandemic. 

    She realizes carpentry work provides her with a lifelong skill. In the early courses at the ATC, half the class was composed of females. But, she said, as she continues taking different carpentry courses more and more advanced, the girls tend to drop out.  Fortunately, the classes are able to social distance since some of the students are still on virtual learning. Students follow videos via computer to do their book work, right along with in-person students attending school.  Lucky for Hailie she plans on signing up for another carpentry class next school year. The students work towards industry certifications to improve their future employability options.

       Hailie has already met the Occupation Safety Health Administration (OSHA) guideline standard from her classwork, so that gives her a leg up on future employment.

       “Students spend ten hours on safety training in our class to be part of a national program” which began in 1970 explained Parmley. Hailie has already completed digital literacy, MOS computer information, and business communication.

        “I became interested in carpentry my first year because my Dad used to do carpentry work,” said Halie. “I thought it would be fun to do it like he did.”

         She said her Dad passed away a couple of years ago, but she thinks he would appreciate her interest in carpentry. “I want to be able to take care of myself and not have to hire someone else to do repair work if I have a home someday.”

        She is also taking personal finance now at the ATC and hopes to take another business class and advanced carpentry class her senior year.

       She is not sure what she would like to do after high school, but is considering being a hair stylist. Or, who knows, her carpentry skills may pay off in another field, since she is conscientious about closing the skills gap towards employment. The trend for the future is to have more than one career during your adult years.

      Sophomore Lane Vaughn also did a good job on Parmley’s recent essay assignment in seventh period. He took the ATC Ceiling and Roof Framing class because he was interested in carpentry. He said what he is learning is a needed skill that might help him in a building career or just being competent around the house making minor repairs. Lane was preparing for a quiz that his class was taking in regard to working with power and hand tools. Their studies cover nine modules which includes: print reading, tools, and soft skills.

      Parmley said before his students take a test he tells them, “Give me 30 nails”. They go into the lab and drive 30 nails into a strip of wood. “It gets their blood circulating” so they can perform well on the assessment. 

      Parmley takes a lot of pride in teaching students carpentry skills and how to be ready to meet the demands of the workforce. Building is a passion, that has been passed down to him and he enjoys sharing it with students. 

Hailie Wise working in lab

Hailie Wise working in the Exterior/Interior Finishing carpentry lab

The Skills Gap Today

By Hailie Wise

WC ATC Carpentry Interior/Exterior Finishing Class Student

           The skills gap has been a serious problem for a long time now. The term “skills gap” describes a fundamental mismatch between the skills that employers rely upon in their employees, and the skills that job seekers possess. Most people believe that this is caused by a miscommunication between how job seekers are conveying their skills and how employers are advertising the skills they require in their job specifications. This isn't acceptable because as soon as job seekers and employers communicate they start off already on separate terms. There are a couple of ways to identify a skills gap like doing a skills gap analysis which helps show the skill gap that an individual or group of individuals have. The skills gap analysis is like a bridge's blueprint because it helps to identify the best way to stretch the gap. It’s also an important part of designing an effective training program. There are some ways to solve a skills gap however, including identifying overlooked talent pools, revise your hiring procedures, create or expand training programs.

            The first way to solve a skills gap is to identify overlooked talent pools. For example, older adults are a great source of talent for organizations. Many have pushed for further education and widened their skill sets during their careers and in periods of unemployment. Another example is formerly incarcerated people. The idea of recruiting and hiring people with criminal backgrounds, also known as second-chance hiring, is gaining attention. While people with criminal records are not what most people think they want during the hiring process, many employees and managers are open to working with and hiring people with criminal histories.

            In addition to identifying overlooked talent pools, revising hiring procedures will help ensure that your organization is not overlooking skilled talent. For example, making job advertisements on the knowledge, skills and abilities that are needed for the particular job rather than the experience or other requirements that may not be necessary, may help bring more people into the workplace. Advertisements should have all interesting functions to apply and should point out hiring preferences without disspirit anyone from applying. Also ensure that qualified people are provided an opportunity to explain why they would be the best fit for your job. Understanding a person's history and current drive is more important now than ever. 

            Creating or widening training programs can also help decrease the skills gap. For example, employers should consider creating deals with local technical schools and certificate programs. These deals have the interest of providing an employer with a skill pool that is getting the skills the employer needs. Also don't overlook high school students who are in the middle of making career decisions and education plans. Advertising job opportunities for students and high school graduates, as well as making training programs that teach wanted skills to the younger generation, can boost a businesses reputation as well as impact the number of qualified individuals. Employers can reach out to directors at local schools or the Board of Education to start a relationship and determine how a partnership can be established. 

            Identifying overlooked talent pools, revising your hiring procedures, and creating or expanding training programs can all help stop or minimize the skills gap. While there are many different ways I feel that these are the best ways to do so.

Layne Vaughn studying in carpentry class

 Layne Vaughn works on an assignment in the ATC Ceiling and Roof Framing classroom

The Skills Gap

By Layne Vaughn

WC ATC Carpentry Ceiling and Roof Framing Class Student

The term “skills gap” describes a fundamental mismatch between the skills that employers rely upon in their employees, and the skills that job seekers possess. This mismatch makes it difficult for individuals to find jobs and for employers to find appropriately trained workers. Identifying the skills gaps benefits companies in a variety of ways. For example, it ensures that the workforce is well trained, educated, and better equipped to perform the job. Another benefit of identifying the skills gap for companies is that it points to the critical skills that employees need to improve. Identifying the skills gap helps employers in the recruiting process because it defines the need for skills that current employees do not possess. 

There are several ways to fix the skills gap in America, some ways are more effective than others. First, the skills gap can be fixed by better training of employees. A perfect way for employees to develop better skills is by taking classes here at the Wayne County Area Technology Center. The classes that are offered here give students a great opportunity to become skilled and educated workers who can enter the workforce if they do not want to attend college. Classes such as carpentry, welding, automotives, industrial maintenance, and several others are all classes that students can take to develop necessary skills that will help them become safe and successful workers in the workforce. 

In conclusion, the skills gap is a serious problem in America. However, there are ways to solve it. One of those solutions is for students who do not plan on attending college to take classes at the Area Technology Center in order to develop the skills needed to be a safe and successful worker in the workforce. Having workers with better skills makes it easier for employers to hire workers to get the job done.

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