I’ve been thinking a ton about our country’s challenge with work, in particular the trades and finding or developing skilled workers. And with 2 high schoolers at home and contemplating their futures, the massive, ever-increasing cost of college consumes some mental space too. AND, the tremendous opportunities we all have with free, widely available world class education opportunities. Meanwhile, student loan debt has crossed $1.7 TRILLION and there is no end in sight as tuitions continue to far outpace general inflation.
With nearly 30k miles worth of car time per year, that creates plenty of thinking time, and one may say a borderline obsession with these topics! HOWEVER....
Pondering without action isn’t exactly productive. The stereotypical Italian from NJ mantra screams into my head: “Waddya gonna do ‘about it?”
So I look for inspiration, role models, ideas and generally anything that gets me moving forward to make a difference…..despite all of the challenges we are confronted with.
PAVERART is my playing field for actions to come to life.
So inspiration and role models…….then waddya gonna do ‘bout it?
Let's start with Google.
If I made a list of companies over the past 20 years that have changed the world, if Google is not #1, it is pretty darn close. Google caught my attention a year or so ago when they announced "micro certificates" and hiring for the NON college degreed applicant. That is a game changer, when employers start to craft their OWN programs of what it means to be qualified and hired. Colleges kind of have a lock on the certification process to be deemed “career ready,” but when companies like Google start to write their own rules, things change.
When more companies follow Google's lead and stop using the degree as a gatekeeper to opportunity, things will change, and fast.
So last week when we walk into the PAVERART shop and the "G" was getting it's bath in prep for its photo shoot, needless to say my smile was ear to ear.
Red. Yellow. Green. Light Blue.
Colors you RARELY see in the world of hardscaping. I often have visions of the scene from Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy opens the door and the classic transforms from black and white to color, but I digress.
Do you know what has changed over the past 25 years since MY college days? Well, besides the skyrocketing cost......the actual information that comprises a typical 4 year degree is nearly universally available, for FREE, from very reputable institutions.
Yes, the actual credential may not be awarded with it (I suspect this will change), but one of college's primary functions was conveying the actual information. That "value" has now evaporated as the information is freely accessible, without crippling debt.
Despite costs continuing to rise and debt fueled financing sky-rocketing past $1.7 Trillion, the NARRATIVE continues: The hell with the cost, the 4 year degree is still the best path to prosperity.
Meanwhile, we have a widely known phenomena in the USA called the "SKILLS GAP." Four to ten million OPEN JOBS (depending on what source you look at) that require real technical skill, pay great wages, and the trade schools are not supplying nearly enough.
The Need For Real Role Models.
Enter Mike Rowe, from Dirty Jobs Fame. Founder of Mike Rowe Works Foundation. Many call Mike the Working Class Hero.
Mike is putting his money, talent and time to closing the Skill Gap in America, tackling what many people think of as the “war on work.”
I love his S.W.E.A.T. pledge: Skill & Work Ethic aren’t Taboo.
All Mike Rowe Works Foundation scholarship applicants are asked to sign this pledge. The short form videos explaining each concepts are fantastic. Links below if you’d like to learn more. Such practical, common sense, and dare I say “American Values.”
To move forward in life and confront these issues, I do believe that we need a personal "code" or foundational truths to rally behind. In the context of career and education, the S.W.E.A.T pledge is as good of a staring point as any. So I'm adopting it, signing up, at least metaphorically.
ACTION: Waddya Gonna do 'bout it?
In short, PAVERART is a highly specialized/niche manufacturing and design business. We are a small business, not a massive corporation. We use some of the most advanced technology and equipment in the world of manufacturing. And we are a small businesses, which means our people often need to play multiple roles. That means the pace of learning a broad, cross functional set of roles is accelerated. Sounds like a breeding ground for development.....
PAVERART needs to train people from the ground up to become part of a high performance culture. I’m a massive believer in personal accountability, results, education, life long learning, growth and mentorship (learning from others that have learned valuable life lessons, beyond just a job). I believe that WORK is not a 4-letter word, but a catalyst to a great, fulfilled life, IF that’s how you choose to approach it. And the reality is that businesses are either growing, or they are dying. And they don’t grow unless their PEOPLE are growing.
The reality of education is that it takes on MANY different forms. On the job training. On-line education. The $25 book. Share groups. Mentorship. Learning from people that have already screwed up basic areas. Disciplined practices. Productive habits. Education is massively important, and it can be compiled in many forms.
We have started talking with people in high school, both counselors and students that are contemplating what is next and exploring their options. We will participate in career fairs at 3 local high schools to start the process of talking through how this is not “just a job” and all the different elements that are being put in place to bring together a unique career and education experience.
Brick By Brick, like everything at PAVERART will be ASPRIATIONAL. Also like PAVERART, it will be a long, hard, and rewarding journey.
If the S.W.E.A.T pledge principles turn your stomach or don't feel right, this will not be a fit. It won’t be easy, and it certainly is not a 4 year party interspersed with classes in between.
But my bet is that that Brick By Brick will be massively successful, and at the end of four years the results will be outstanding.
Bricks are fundamental. They are used for building a foundation that will last 50+ years.
The core design principles of PAVERART are “Built to Last” and “Create a Wow factor!” Those principles will carry over in lock step to brick by brick.
Journey’s begin with one single step.
If you know of anyone that could be interested in learning more, we are setting up zoom introductory sessions.
They can reach out to us directly with the subject line: Brick by Brick to email email@example.com to express an interest in learning more. If they'd like to tell us a bit about themselves even better.