It was with great anticipation that I awaited the visit of President Barack Obama to our region. When I learned that he was coming to speak about the need for building bridges between industry and the education community, I was thrilled. All of us who have been around Pittsburgh for a longer time realize that our community is blessed to have a man of the caliber and accomplishments of Bill Strickland, founder of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild. Bill has been a national leader in understanding the connection between job opportunities and the proper preparation required to be successful in jobs that require specialized training.
Some years ago, the chemical industry was having a very difficult time finding qualified laboratory technicians. A group of the companies approached Bill about building a cooperative program to train selected individuals to become competent chemical laboratory technicians. The program was designed by the company laboratory managers and one of the organizations contributed a scientist to prepare the course curriculum and taught the year-long course. The program was a booming success.
At Bayer, we hired over 40 individuals trained through the efforts of Bill’s organization. The success record was fabulous. Bill went on to develop other programs through cooperative efforts with entities requiring specially trained employees.
President Obama came to Pittsburgh to discuss the need for education programs designed to prepare individuals for jobs that are now not filled only because the trained personnel are not available. Mr. Obama did not have to look any farther than the North Side to find the model program that he has been searching for. Only the president can explain the oversight of ignoring the best possible model to accomplish what he came to Pittsburgh to speak about.