September 2013

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Page 35 of 59

Product Support Solving Our Great Big Workforce Problem Action that has the power to uproot, turn around, and re-generate America's youth, education, culture, and your business. By Ron Slee This is the start of a three-part series of articles covering some personnel issues and challenges faced by the parts and service business in the equipment dealership today. We will be talking about employees in the service department, the technicians and technical support personnel, the parts office and selling support personnel, product support selling personnel, and finally the management and supervisory personnel. The ability to acquire talented and skilled personnel has never been more important in business than it is today. It is people that make the difference in companies – and how employers work with and develop these employees has become very significant and extremely critical. Let's look at the world around us first. Over my work life the focus has been consistently on a "four year university degree." Now, I don't have anything against education and learning wherever it is available; however, in this drive for the ever-prized college degree we have left out a very important segment of the workforce: people who have technical skills and aptitude. The notion that a four-year degree is essential for real success is being challenged by a growing number of economists, policy analysts and academics. They say more Americans should choose other options such as technical training or two-year schools, which have been embraced in Europe for decades. Our source for new employees is typically the education system, which is charged with the development of our youth. Recently, the education system, K-12, has been challenged with student-to-teacher ratio increases and school board spending levels. Meanwhile, in the Texas legislature, there are efforts underway to pass a law requiring all students at public colleges and universities to take the CLA (Collegiate Learning Assessment) during their freshman and senior years. The legislature's documents stated that, holding every institution accountable for how much students learn under their tutelage, the CLA would ultimately serve as an alternative credential to the bachelor's degree. "This would help students, parents, and legislators to take a more open-eyed view of the current state of higher education," Texas lawmakers wrote. It might also help more parents and educators to come to the conclusion that specific technical learning is an important alternative to the sacred cow thinking that everyone needs a college degree. Then we arrive at another challenge – the generational challenge. You know what I mean. The younger people today; they don't work like we did. They want to make a lot of money and not have much to do. That generational challenge. Many are talking about the lost generation. That is the current group of people in their late teens to their early 20s. The dilemma with the education they have received is that it has not delivered to students any appreciable skills that the market wants or needs. Martin Scaglione, president and chief operating officer of Work Force Development for ACT, the Iowabased, not-for-profit best known for its college entrance exam, suggested nothing short of a new definition for educational success. He advocates (continued on page 36) 34 | www.cedmag.com | Construction Equipment Distribution | September 2013 34_Slee_Feature_KP.indd 34 8/28/13 12:32 PM

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