Coming together to train youth for skilled jobs
DIXON – I visited BorgWarner in Dixon for the first time Monday morning. The gathering included members of the Dixon Chamber of Commerce. It was arranged to give Congressman Randy Hultgren, R-Winfield, a chance to tour the facility and learn about what was happening inside.
As part of our ongoing coverage of the themes in "Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism," we have discussed a handful of issues with area leaders.
BorgWarner officials addressed the need for a skilled, trained work force to handle technical engineering and manufacturing jobs. A manager said the lack of local people who could fill this need was one of his worries.
He was asked if Sauk Valley Community College was providing such skilled workers.
Although the college has retooled its program, the process of finding talent to train takes time, said Bob White, BorgWarner's director of human resources.
Once again, I got to hear a conversation highlighting themes local leaders are discussing.
Doug Wiersema, former president and CEO of the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce, also has said the area has a need for skilled workers.
The solution may lie in partnerships between area high schools, community colleges and universities, as Hultgren suggested.
Educators need to direct young people to viable careers at early ages and help prepare them for these jobs. That way, students will be on the path to employment well before it comes time to submit a job application.
BorgWarner officials also talked about the difficulty of attracting talented senior employees to come to Dixon and the Sauk Valley. In his book, Richard C. Longworth noted that many young people leave small towns once they have completed high school.
I have talked to young people who said they would consider returning to the area if there were jobs here.
The answers to the problem seem to be right in front of us. Companies have highly skilled positions available that they need to fill. Our community college is retooling its programs to meet this need. Young people are receiving more and more education and training in hopes of finding good jobs.
It seems as though members of each of these groups should sit down and find a way to take a young person from the path of early education to successful full-time employment. That's what will help this area grow and prosper.
Sauk Valley Media reporter Kiran Sood covers government and happenings in Sterling and Rock Falls. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 800-798-4085, ext. 529.