Sunday, August 25, 2019

Bill Crawford: Taylor Says Skills Training Should Begin in Eighth Grade

The paradigm of get a job and we will train you is gone," says Louisville's Lex Taylor. He is talking to a large multi-county group of business, education, and government leaders at the The Dome, Louisville's new community safe room.


Understand that Taylor is no common businessman. He is the third-generation leader of one of Mississippi's great rural industry successes.

In 1927 W. A. Taylor, Sr. opened a small family-owned automotive and repair business in Louisville. In 1937 he produced his first conventional timber skidder, then pioneered a mobile skidder and loader called the “Logger’s Dream.” The 1950’s brought the development of “Yardster” forklift trucks. A line of pulpwood handling equipment, including the “Pulpwood Dream,” followed. By the early 1970s, Taylor Machine Works, under the second generation leadership of W.A. "Bill" Taylor Jr., had developed one of the most advanced machine shops in the South with heavy investments in modern machine tools. New products included a complete line of heavy duty trailers (for transporting gravel, soil, etc.), numerous agricultural implements, reforestation equipment, log loaders, and other specialized machines.



Today, under the third generation leadership of Lex and his brother Robert, Taylor Machine Works is now one division in the Taylor Group of Industries, Inc, that includes national defense product, power system, logistics, leasing and rental, and "sudden service" divisions. The company has operations in Alabama, Florida, Texas, Wyoming, and multiple locations in Mississippi and is a major player worldwide in materials handling equipment.

"Taylor competes on a world stage, now, with its products and services, and like all businesses here and our surrounding areas, we need a pool of trained, ready-to-work labor," says Taylor, "workers that with minor orientation on the job can be productive day one."

That was the purpose of the meeting in Louisville, to kick-off and promote a four-county initiative to begin building pools of ready-to-work labor.

Rural counties Choctaw, Kemper, Webster, and Winston banded together to pursue and win a competitive POWER grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. The objective of this project is to begin to build local labor pools at the high school level, then to establish community-based access to fundamental skills training oriented to the needs of local industry within each county.

Driving the project were the local economic developers, Lara Bowman, executive director of The Enterprise of Mississippi that includes Choctaw and Webster counties, Glen Haab, executive director of the Winston County Economic Development District Partnership, and Craig Hitt, executive director of the Kemper County Economic Development Authority.

Key partners were community colleges to provide training and testing services – East Mississippi, East Central, and Holmes; high schools to provide the students – Choctaw County, French Camp Academy, Kemper County, Kemper Academy, East Webster, Eupora, Louisville, Nanih Waiya, and Noxapater; career and technology centers to provide training sites – Choctaw County, Louisville, Webster County, and EMCC; and the Golden Triangle Planning and Development District to handle fiscal matters.

This is a beginning, but Taylor hopes for more. He wants to put work skills and soft skills education into school curricula beginning in the 8th grade.

"Workforce development is now, more than ever, one of the most critical tools in driving the American economy to the greatness it once commanded," he says. "Skills training is the answer."

As an industry leader who competes successfully worldwide, Taylor seems like someone we should listen to.


Crawford is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Go to any port and you will see Taylor equipment handling containers. Taylor is a great MS success story and they are absolutely right about workforce training. We have the jobs, just not the people trained to fill them.

I just got back from south LA and the new chemical plants under construction are paying people $25 and hour to start. If you're willing to learn a trade, pass a drug test and get your hands dirty $50,000 to start sure beats $100,000 in college loan debt.

Anonymous said...

Greenville SC is an early model working with leading auto manufacturers and suppliers to train thru community college workers.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, over 110,000 of MS public school students languish in D and F rated schools. Simultaneously, the "education and legislative leadership" continues to brag on themselves regarding what a great job they are doing.

Anonymous said...

4:05..."D and F rated schools"? Hogwash. The problem is D and F rated parents. 75% of problems in schools could be corrected if parents did their jobs. And that means a two parent home where morals, ethics, manners, respect and God were stressed.

Anonymous said...

5:11 pm - sadly, 75% of black children, and 30% of white children, no longer have "parents." It's one mom trying to make a car payment and rent, and groceries on Saturday.

It is up to our schools, and the low expectations we put on children with only a single parent.

Anonymous said...

You can build a half million dollar vocational wing on every high school campus in Mississippi and the problem will not be corrected. By the way, many high schools in this state already have what are now called Career Centers where training is available.

Throw money into vocational buildings, salaries and equipment and the tip of the iceberg might be approached. Without leadership from the black community, nothing will change. That equates to goals and expectations and, yes, demands from the community leadership across the state.

We cannot (and will never) change the family structure dynamic in the black community. We can cuss about it and we can preach about it and we can sling raw meat at it. But it will not change.

Throwing more money at buildings that offer training won't touch the problem. It will take leadership - and leadership has not emerged in the past sixty years.

Anonymous said...

In my high school there were two tracks available, an academic (college prep) and trade track. Unfortunately there was a stigma attached to those who took the trade track; but not everybody is interested in, or would excel in college, and some have more motivation and aptitude to work with their hands. I'm a professional engineer and I work with some trade people who have amazing problem solving skills and far more common sense than those with advanced engineering degrees.

Some years ago the liberal left created the idea that the only way to succeed in America was by going to a four-year college, Mike Rowe has been instrumental in proving this wrong. Now we have people with six-figure student loans who studied useless topics and are now begging for relief from the same liberals who created the problem.

Thanks liberals!

Anonymous said...

August 25, 2019 at 5:11 PM Is absolutely correct.
Is any institution (family, school) setting an example for behavior that includes manners, morals, courtesy, and respect? I understand that in a one parent household these character building lessons often fall through the cracks. My wife and I elected not to reproduce.

Maybe if millennials want their opinion to be "valued" they should exhibit manners, morals, courtesy, and respect. I work with some millennials and even some of the hard working, smart ones are lacking in manners and courtesy. I do not think that they intend to be disrespectful or poorly mannered, they simply do not know any better.

Anonymous said...

8:14, you can blame social media for disrespectful behavior and not knowing how to deal with people in a courteous and professionally deferential manner.

Anonymous said...

Shop class, Vocation classes, and more were the first things cut from curriculum years ago and now we have a workforce with very limited actual work knowledge for these types of industries... Not everyone needs to go to college...

Mbrookes said...

I am so tired of the comments about "single parents", I was a single parent and my two children are strong productive citizens. They know how to behave and how to relate to other people. It is not the singleness that is the problem. It is the actions and lack of actions of the parent.

Anonymous said...

In Mississippi it's all about quietly herding students through the K-12 system (regardless of attendance or actual achievement) and then repeating that formula in higher education where there is now a no fail policy.....it's all designed to keep the state and federal dollars flowing.

MDE and IHL are no more than pimps of Mississippi's youth - capturing the tax dollars meant for their education....which ain't happening.

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