Lynn Stanley headshot
From the
Senior Editor
By Lynn Stanley
Science & Art

everal years ago I realized a lifelong dream—to own a horse. I took on a rescue that was little more than skin and bones when I first saw him. Large doses of TLC got him back on his feet and we were soon taking to the trails. In 2018 he was diagnosed with an endocrine disorder that affects the pituitary gland.

Diagnosis, drugs, diet and frequent hoof trims has become our ritual in the long journey to manage his illness. Regular blood tests to monitor a particular hormone produced by the pituitary gland and insulin, hay testing and balancing, a low sugar/low starch diet, medication and an array of supplements are now all part of a day’s work at the barn.

Careful rehabilitation has him looking and feeling like his old self again and we are living the dream and able to ride. When a recent blood test showed elevated hormone levels, I expressed concern. But our specialist reminded me of the following: “Managing these horses is part science, part art and you need to pay attention to the whole picture, not just the snapshots in time that the blood work highlights.”

I think advice like that can fit numerous situations. For this month’s cover story, we examine what is being done to bridge the skills gap through education and training. This required examining and attempting to understand key statistics.

For example, a Skills Gap 2019 report issued by the Society for Human Resource Management stated that a tight talent market with low unemployment and high competition is making it more difficult for companies to recruit qualified candidates. Seventy-five percent of surveyed HR managers said they believed the difficulty was due to a skills shortage. Trade, data analysis and science, engineering and medical were listed among the top missing technical skills. In the arena of soft skills, respondents pointed to problem solving, creativity, critical thinking and communication. Study participants said the most effective remedies are on-site training, higher compensation and improving retention efforts for current employees.

I wanted to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth so I talked with educators at Cairo Elementary, Westside Community Schools and Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology as well as Norton Abrasives/Saint-Gobain and AIMS Metrology about the approaches these institutions and equipment suppliers have used to help narrow the skills gap.

“It’s important to spread the word about getting our young people excited about the science in manufacturing,” says Mike Shappell, senior applications engineer for Norton Abrasives/Saint-Gobain.

Dr. Hossein Rahemi, Vaughn College’s engineering and technology department chair, takes it a step further. “If you can talk about manufacturing and STEM, you are very marketable,” he says. “Manufacturers are looking for people who are self-starters.”

During these conversations, I discovered that managing this shortage and building a talent pipeline is also part science, part art. It is important to pay attention to the whole picture, not just snapshots in time provided by statistics. A large part of the equation is to listen to what manufacturers need and craft programs that help students meet those requirements. The right equipment choices to support education and training needs is another piece of the puzzle. Please check out the story and perhaps your organization can try similar approaches.