Workforce Development

Re-Tooling America’s Training of Skilled Trades Workers

November 7, 2013  • Nick Pinchuk, Guest Blogger

Nick Pinchuk is chair of the Skills for America’s Future advisory board and chairman and chief executive officer of Snap-on Incorporated, a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information, and systems solutions for professional users performing critical tasks. 

Grainger President Jim Ryan describes the costs and challenges of filling open positions for a manufacturing employer.

Numerous reports have been released recently about the shortage of skilled workers in a variety of occupations and sectors. Earlier this year, Forbes Magazine ran a story warning of worsening shortages yet to come, citing data showing that many of these capable Americans are fast approaching retirement age. 

At Skills for America’s Future, we believe that skilled Americans are our country’s engine of progress. They translate the special technical knowledge from their minds into problem-solving actions with their hands, moving our nation forward. Our economy, in fact our very way of life, depends on armies of our skilled countrymen working at every stage of business: designing, testing, producing, transporting, selling, and servicing. These include those working in American energy, creating the electricity and fuel to power our offices, stores, plants, vehicles; and in telecommunications, ensuring that we can transmit and access vital data across distances. They also include technicians who operate equipment in our production and distribution centers, mechanics who keep engines and plant equipment humming, transportation drivers and operators who bring products to market, and skilled construction workers and trade specialists who build and maintain roads and buildings in every community across America.

To help address the need for more skilled workers, Skills for America’s Future, with the generous sponsorship support of Grainger, has just released a new information resource to help guide efforts by employers and community colleges in forming and strengthening effective training and recruiting partnerships. This new resource is called The Skilled Trades Playbook, and you can find it front-and-center on Skills for America’s Future’s home page. The Playbook incorporates numerous examples of effective employer engagement strategies learned from Skills for America’s Future’s first two years of operation. It serves as a one-stop, how-to guide, with checklists and other tools to help businesses and community colleges work together to find, train, and place workers in important and rewarding jobs.

The competitive advantage inherent in America’s workforce has always paved the way for our nation’s progress. Today, however, there are significant skills gaps that have led to thousands of unfilled jobs. Skills for America’s Future is dedicated to up-skilling our workforce, filling those jobs, and putting America’s greatest resource back to work. The Skilled Trades Playbook is another strong step in that direction. 

The Aspen Institute Skills for America’s Future identifies solutions in which employers work together with education and training providers to prepare individuals with the skills that will allow American businesses to be more productive, innovative and competitive. For more information about this program, visit