Childhood Playtime Can Influence an Adult's Career

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to Mark Skaer’s blog “Skaer-Tactics: Plenty of Questions, Not Enough Answers,” Sept. 1.]

Contrast today’s childhood playtime options with those of 40 years ago. When I was a lad, we played with erector sets in the winter and bicycles in the summer. Those activities competed with three black-and-white TV channels.

As a 12-year-old, I was making homemade alarms with 6-V batteries, nails, and rolls of wire. I could pop a bike chain rivet and fix a flat. My dad showed me how to use tools, and I learned early to use my hands. When I was older, if you wanted a ham radio kit, you bought a Heathkit and a soldering iron.

Today’s kids have a choice of staying in an air conditioned space playing video games and surfing the net versus breaking a sweat and maybe scraping a knuckle while learning to use a wrench.

My hypothesis is because today’s kids don’t grow up using their hands for mechanical tasks, they cannot envision a career that requires the same. And most of their parents and teachers are in the same place. So we have a global pool of talent that is really shallow. As a result, all industries face a shortage of mechanically skilled, technically astute technicians.

So, if by chance a young person has the skills, they are in high demand across industries. When they compare their options, they find they can either work in a controlled environment - think automotive, factory technicians, aerospace, etc. - or they can squirm through crawl spaces, sweat in attics, or bake/freeze on rooftops.

We have some steep structural barriers to improving this situation. I hold that if a young person is not thinking of a technician-oriented career by the time they enter high school, the battle is mostly lost. Whatever the solution is, it needs to address the educational system from the middle school years and up.

Jim Rutz
Marketing & Sales Manager
Magic Aire, Division of Carrier
Wichita Falls, Texas

Green, Comfort, and Energy Efficiency

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to Mike Murphy’s blog, “Murphy’s Law: HVAC for the Ages,” July 7, which ran online and in print.]

Mike Murphy is right on the money with his column. WaterFurnace dealers are selling green, comfort, and energy efficiency. Dealers can show cash flow, which is much more important than payback, return on investment, and carbon dioxide reduction to the homeowner in the selling process. The results have been great with a shift in our traditionally residential new construction business to more add-on/replacement, which has resulted in an increase in residential sales of over 35 percent.

Phil Albertson
Vice President Sales & Marketing
WaterFurnace International
Fort Wayne, Ind.

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Publication date:09/22/2008