First things first. If we want to really get our hands around the big picture not just for the landscape industry but entry level employees across the board in this country we must go to a High School level. Employment issues are at an all time high. People needing jobs, companies in desperate need of entry/intermediate level employees. The first thing that we need to look at is that the construction field is one of the most significant parts of our country's infrastructure. Yet the classes taught in High Schools are mostly set up for preparing kids for college. Not everybody needs, wants, or is capable of college. What happens to the majority who go directly into the work force? They simply aren't prepared. There are Vocational Technical Schools set up in the Pgh. area for High School students. Unfortunately for a student to take these classes you have to take a bus in the morning to a different location away from the rest of your friends. Socialization is a main priority and necessary for kids at this age. Not to mention these VoTech schools are typically filled with disciplinary cases, and causes a stigma that good kids can't be affiliated with. Instead you have a kid like I was who had no intention in going to college, but was not going to socially assassinate myself. i was an athlete and hung out with the popular crowd and Vo Tech would of killed my social life. Instead I, like countless others take classes we have no interest in, play little to no part in our futures, waste tax dollars, and waste teachers valuable time while cheating other students out of the teachers time. It is time to quit misguiding children about eduction beyond high school. College isn't for everybody and the student loans passed onto to kids not finishing college, or not using their degrees is beyond wasteful and another big problem in this country. It is time to teach our kids there is no stereotype between white collar and no collar jobs. I personally do financially better then 95% of people and customers I associate with who have college degrees. I did however feel inferior to my college bound counter parts for years after high school. I feel that High schools urgently need to implement several trade classes into their curriculum and properly educate students on the realities of the true economic job world. This will put tax dollars to better use, keep students interested, better prepare them for their future, utilize teachers time better, reduce student loans,recreate the entry level workers, and greatly strengthen our economy . By implementing class room and on site classes will start to rebuild the work ethic that most kids are being cheated out of from thoughtless parents. It will begin to form the foundation they desperately need to survive and fully participate in today's society. By the time they are in their 20's it's too difficult or impossible to instill this.
Trade schools established for kids right out of High School are great. I spoke with an electrician yesterday about how easy it is for them to recruit educated and certified candidates. I have nothing like that in the Pgh. area (from what I've researched). There are several levels of higher education beyond high school that would be invaluable for landscape companies. To start off on the bottom, to implement a " Introduction to Hardscape Construction Course" . This course would teach:
- The hardscape industry background and current role in the business world
- Tool identification and usage
- Raw Material identification and usage
- Equipment identification and usage
- Hardscape materials, identification and usage
- ICPI and NCMA class room and on site education (This section alone would be a 2 month course)
This alone could be a 3 month+ course for entry level employees. Nothing too expensive, or too many resources needed to get established. If successful could be implemented nationwide. I would consider this level 1 out of 5 for just hardscape and not even getting into landscape, irrigation,lighting, excavation, water features services. Then you have management, design, sales, etc. A 3 month course that a candidate has to pay for, gets graded on, and maintains strict attendance along with full participation in field classes would be a great asset to any company needing these basic fundamentals. If a candidate completes a course such as this, I as an employer know what to expect as the candidate took the class seriously, paid for training, and fully understands the physical aspects and work ethic required day in and out (Applied through months of site education). If you run a hardscape company or looking to get involved these are the necessary fundamentals that fit in any company's model.
I have approached reps from Versa lok and Unilok so far about implementing this education. I feel it would give them a hand up on competition as using this as part of their contractor programs. For me to continue the fight I need support from employees, owners, or anybody interested to weigh in. This is vague and introductory for my vision but enough to summarize.
I see many are viewing but we need responses!