After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople
BY MATT KRUPNICK, THE HECHINGER REPORT August 29, 2017 at 1:40 PM EDT
FONTANA, Calif. — At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.
Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages. It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.
Lessons not learned
Massachusetts belatedly confronts construction fire dangers
THE NIGHT SKY GLOWED in East Longmeadow as firefighters raced toward a sprawling retirement complex being built on acres of farmland. They arrived minutes after the first call to find a raging inferno like nothing they had ever encountered.
Manufactured composite wood used in the construction of the unoccupied, 130-unit Bluebird Estates burned like kindling. Wind carried embers a half-mile away, forcing the evacuation of a hundred nearby homes.
“It was just a wall of fire,” recounted Paul Morrissette, now the town’s fire chief, who was a captain on the first truck to arrive at the scene in 2007.
The massive blaze was a wake-up call for fire departments and state officials to the serious potential hazards of these increasingly common engineered wood products, especially during construction, before sheetrock, sprinklers, and fire alarms are installed and operating. East Longmeadow immediately stepped up efforts to reduce the risk of fires at all construction sites, Morrissette said.
Now, 10 years later, it’s clear that much of Massachusetts didn’t get the message.
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