valve-literate,” says Greg Johnson,
president of United Valve and chairman
of the Valve Manufacturers Association’s Education and Training Committee. “They want us to tell them what
the words mean. A ‘Valves 101’ course
will go a long way toward educating
customers and vendors. This is why
VMA is moving full speed ahead to provide basic training on the types of products the association’s member
companies manufacture. ”
Experts say there are ways out of the
workforce dilemma, many of which are
generating local successes around the
country. These include making greater
use of two-year technical colleges for
training, recruiting associate-degree
technicians as aggressively as graduates
of four-year engineering programs,
developing more outreach to high school
and junior high school students, and
doing a better job of marketing opportunities in manufacturing and industrial
plants to students, school administrators
and, importantly, parents.
Associate degrees from community
colleges are attracting more interest
from companies seeking technicians. One
reason is that course instruction often
includes subjects taught in four-year
engineering programs, though the work
is more applications oriented.
“The community college is really an
interface between engineering and
implementation,” says Mike Mires,
Dean of Instruction for Technical Education at Spokane Community College,
Spokane, WA. “We are an applied science group. It’s great to design a programmable logic controller, but how it
interfaces with motors and controls is up
to the technician we train, who is our
Graduates of two-year technical colleges are capable of moving into entry-level positions that in many cases would
be filled by four-year graduates and,
importantly, advancing with on-the-job
training and additional coursework.
Experts also point out that associate-degree colleges have long attracted stu-
dents who are older and more focused on
career training than many students at
four-year schools. In a global economy
that places a premium on technical
expertise, workers can expect to change
jobs many times and learn different
skills. Two-year colleges are important
and accessible ways to train and retrain
Two-year technical colleges are thus
selling points for businesses looking to
expand or locate operations in neighboring areas. As a result, their curricula are
constantly updated to stay current with
“There’s a misconception in the market that a bachelor’s degree will solve
workforce needs,” Mires notes, “but
that’s really not true in the trades and
Two-year colleges also attract professionals seeking career changes—so
much so that one educator in Texas calls
them “the graduate schools of the 21st
State and federal support of these
schools is sizeable and ongoing. In one
notable expansion, Richland College in
Dallas is developing a campus in nearby
Garland, TX, that will be primarily for
workforce training, rather than a steppingstone to a four-year program. Slated
to open in 2009, it’s one of five new
campuses that are part of a $450-mil-
lion, state-funded package of improvements for Texas community colleges.
One proponent of hiring associate-degree technicians is Glen Spielbauer.
He has a two-year degree in electronics
technology, is a systems technician at
Continental Electronics and a manufacturer of radio transmitters in Dallas.
Spielbauer has also worked for a packaging company, co-owned a factory
automation business, done consulting
work, written for trade magazines and is
a member of the American Technical
VMA’S ‘VALVE ED’ PROGRAM TO LAUNCH IN 2009
VMA’s Education & Training Committee is now working on development of a
Valve 101 training program, which will be introduced as a PowerPoint presentation in the first quarter of 2009, then expanded into eLearning and other formats.
Additional modules will be developed, with an Actuator 101 program also in
the works for next year. Also under consideration are modules on topics such as
valve maintenance, repair, corrosion, castings, quarter-turn valves (and many
other specific valve types), as well as other courses that are industry or applica-tion-specific.
To spread the word, VMA Education & Training Committee members will
make presentations at a variety of end-user industry shows beginning mid-2009.
A new one-day event, the Valve Basics Seminar & Tabletop Exhibit, will be
introduced next fall in Houston, a location with a large concentration of valve
users, to provide convenient and inexpensive training for industry newcomers.
Eventually, these events will be expanded to other areas of the country with
In addition, VMA plans to set up a database of presenters/trainers to serve as
a resource for companies and organizations that wish to have valve training conducted on site. The association will also reach out to a variety of educational
institutions, including two-year and engineering schools, to offer valve training
programs and speakers.
Watch future issues of Valve Magazine and VMA’s websites— VMA.org and
ValveMagazine.com—for additional information about VMA’s Education &
Training program as it develops. If you have any questions, please contact Judy
Tibbs at email@example.com or Greg Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.