Spent yesterday in Grand Prairie Texas, just outside Dallas. There’s a trade school there called Dubiski. They train kids for jobs that actually exist, and they are without question one of the best facilities I’ve ever seen.
Nearby, there’s a Cat Dealership called Holt. As many of you know, Cat has supported my efforts with mikeroweWORKS for years. Down here in Texas, The Cat Dealership is always looking for kids with the talent and the work ethic required to repair and maintain really big machines. In the heat. Currently, they’re hiring, and the opportunities are really, really good.
Long story short, Dubiski has a field of study specifically tailored for kids who want to work on heavy equipment, and Holt Cat is providing internships at their facility for kids who are enrolled in that field of study. Not only is this additional training free – the kids actually get paid for it. Once trained, these student are finding themselves in demand – big-time.
I wanted to see the program for myself, so I stopped by yesterday to meet the people who put it together, and take a tour of the school. I had a blast. There was a Pep Rally in the parking lot. The kids printed a giant S.W.E.A.T. Pledge which everybody signed. I met all the students, and shook a thousand hands. I met three girls who were taking apart a Harley engine with so much concentration it made my head hurt.
I met Manny, Daniel, Jose, Luis, and Diego. These guys are all are under 21. They all went through the program, and they all worked their butts off. Now they have full-time jobs at Holt Cat. They each pay their own rent, buy their own tools, own their own vehicles, and genuinely love what they do.
Their former instructor was a guy named Rick Elmore. If Mr. Holland’s Opus was about a shop teacher, Mr. Elmore would have been the lead character. He wears some very suspicious ties, but he’s absolutely committed to these kids and to this program, and he is beloved by his students.
What’s going on at Dubiski and Holt is fantastic, but the fact that it’s not headline news makes me want grab our national media by it’s shiny lapels and shake them until I’m arrested. If this country has any hope of getting its collective head out of its respective ass, we need to look really, really hard at what’s going on in Grand Prairie, and shout it from the mountaintops. This is how we close the skills gap. Businesses with available jobs need to partner with excellent schools and reward the work ethic we wish to encourage. It’s simple.