In recent weeks we received an email from SkillsUSA Wisconsin that offered a few interesting statistics that bear repeating here.
The thrust of the article was that there is a wealth of potential in the jobs market for high paying, high skilled jobs that don't require a four-year college education. Many, of course will require post high school courses, but not leading to a bachelor's degree. They will also require a lot of hands-on training and many other ways to acquire skills.
A college education is the right path for many of today's students, but there are many other careers that can provide higher incomes, and that's what the SkillsUSA organization is pushing.
The organization took a look at workforce projections for this year and that data shows 50 percent of the new jobs in Wisconsin will require more than a high school education but less than a traditional four-year degree.
Nationally, by 2025, the manufacturing industry will require a highly skilled workforce of about 3.5 million workers and here in Wisconsin manufacturing accounts for 16 percent of the state's workforce. So, that's a huge impact.
The report said that in 2015 the average manufacturing employee earned over $68,000 in Wisconsin. That's $23,000 more than the average salary in the state overall, and slightly more than the average young person with a college degree.
And, we've heard this many times before but 70 percent of executives in manufacturing businesses say there are not enough people in the workforce qualified with the necessary computer and technical skills to fill the current vacancies.
Another industry facing a severe shortage of skilled workers is construction. The national shortage of skilled workers in that broad industry is 1 million and that's despite the average income of $65,000.
The report also pointed out that people with these kinds of skills can often move up in a career path to management positions that offer even higher compensation.
Watertown High School has an excellent SkillsUSA chapter under the capable leadership of Jesse Domer and they are doing some incredible things. We're impressed with the many partnerships Jesse has formed with local and area industries and the many honors and awards the local group has received.
This local program is a step in the right direction of getting more and more people exposure to the many career opportunities. The time to get people excited about careers of this nature is while they are in high school. They can focus their educational opportunities on this career path and then extend that in post high school education and in the workplace where skills are learned and more and more opportunities open up.
There's no question it's a fast changing world.
The Glimpses of the Past section in this newspaper often brings back memories for local and former residents and results in some interesting comments.
That was the case back in January of this year when we carried a glimpse from 50 years ago on Jan. 19, 1969, which captured part of a story that said Steven Kohls, Watertown native and an outstanding percussionist with the world famous United States Navy Band, based in Washington, D.C., would be participating in the inaugural parade for President Richard Nixon.
Well, that little mention found its way back to Steve via Phil Strunz, a former Daily Times employee and friend of Steve's.
Phil emailed the glimpse back to Steve and his response was interesting and served as a reminder as to how fast the years go by.
Steve wrote of his participation in the inaugural, "I was very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and have the skills they were looking for. I played in five inaugural parades from Johnson to Reagan and for all the presidents from Kennedy to Reagan.
"My daughter came home from school one day in 1988 or 1989 and asked me if I knew that President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas 'but he is buried right here in Arlington cemetery'? I told her that I knew that because I played at his funeral. And, she said, 'What? You were in something that's in my history book?' I told her I had never thought of that. Boy, then I did feel old when something I was part of is in the school's history book."
That was some great information from Steve and it brought back some recollections for us as well. Time really does go by fast when you're having fun! The 1960s didn't seem that long ago, but it's now 50 years since that inaugural.
Steve is the son of the late Louis and Arline Kohls of Watertown. Louie, as we recalled him, was a lieutenant in the police department for many years and was usually at the dispatch desk when we made our usual rounds to the police and fire departments in the late 1960s. He always had a smile and something interesting to offer. Louie also did much of the police department photo work and was also one of the guys who could often be found in our Daily Times darkroom back when everything was black and white photography.
We always found it amazing when we could develop negatives and make prints in a matter of a few minutes. Louie was one of the guys who helped teach me about that skill that was essential to newspaper journalists. Today that chemistry is long gone and photography is now all digital and in color. The changes to digital photography made color photos commonplace today.
Louie was also the photographer we selected for our wedding pictures.