Friday, October 17, 2008

Reviving Austin's glory days

To be sure, this could be another area where we could improve our education system. Not just the public schools either. We might have to be honest when we says that not all the students in school are either going to make it to college or even want to go to college.

I don't want to discourage anyone who wants to go. It doesn't matter much to me if they make the grades or not because sometimes you might hear stories that some made good marks in school and they didn't make it to college or didn't graduate. Of course there might be various reasons for that.

The main thing to point out is that we can't allow our young people to go out of even high school without some kind of training. Not just give them skills to continue their education on the post-secondary level, but for the workplace.

Check out this article from the Austin Weekly News:
The symposium, "Advanced Technology, Training and Leadership in Manufacturing: A Renaissance for the West Side," takes place this Saturday Oct. 18, at Austin Polytechnical Academy, 231 N. Pine Ave. APA, one of three small schools on the Austin high school campus, focuses on training students in the manufacturing industry.

The free event includes seminars on careers in the field and on emerging technology. Information on job training programs will also be available, as well as a youth workshop on robotics and engineering.

"Manufacturing today is much different than it was 10 years ago, much less 20 to 30 years ago," said Erica Swinney-Stein, of the Center for Labor and Community Research (CLCR), a non-profit consulting and research organization.

Manufacturing, Swinney-Stein noted, is still one of the top three sectors in the economy but suffers from a shortage of skilled workers. Jobs in the industry are less labor-intensive but more hi-tech.

"They require a much higher level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It is not yesterday's manufacturing," she said.

To help residents better understand manufacturing, the Center for Labor has teamed up with the Digital Development Oversight Committee to host the day-long symposium. One of its goals is to spark discussion on transforming Austin into a manufacturing powerhouse. The loss of West Side manufacturing companies like Sunbeam and Western Electric in the '70s and '80s devastated communities such as Austin. But redevelopment has come in the form of gentrification, retail jobs and a distribution center to be located on the Brach's site, 401 N. Cicero, explained Swinney-Stein.

Instead of becoming a place of "Wal-Marts and warehouses," Austin could be a center for manufacturing windmills for the renewable energy sector, she stressed. Austin Polytech has already partnered with 44 different manufacturing companies and offers certification in National Institute of Metalworking Skills.
Another good piece of west side news has the prospects of a retail site on Madison Street that offers more shopping options of area residents. Sounds good to me of course I wonder how serious a food desert there is out west. I'd like to see future articles on that.

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