Technology & Continuing Ed

I was a little boy the first time I saw a robot. I can’t remember if it was on Reading Rainbow or Bill Nye, but I know it was putting together a car. I watched as the gaggle of mechanized pincers mindlessly assembled a sedan without human oversight. How cool, how neat, I thought, to get to work with robots. Thirty years later, research by consultancy firm PwC suggests as many as 40% of US jobs in manufacturing, transportation, and financial services could be taken by robots. Even writers like myself aren’t immune to obsolescence in the face of automation; there are algorithms assembling news bytes throughout social media, and even the Washington Post uses a program to synthesize human-like narratives for many stories. How cool. How neat.

The report by PwC, while unnerving, has helped me appreciate the merits of those organizations which make an effort to future proof their workforce. Power Partner MN has made continuing ed an integral part of their mission and organizational structure. They provide ample opportunity for journeypersons to expand their skill sets with the tools they need to remain relevant to employers, which grows the proficiencies of the contractor as a whole.

While this was true ten, or even fifteen years ago, its relevance is greater now than ever before, as technologies like VR and BIM (see previous article) are pushing the limits of logistical and collaborative efficiency in the building trades. These tools make major projects like apartment buildings, data centers, or behemoths like US Bank Stadium much easier to tackle. Such projects are extremely valuable to builders, but require multiple contractors to coordinate their efforts and design interacting systems concurrently. To do this without products like BIM is ungainly and invites greater opportunity for mistakes, delays, and unforeseen circumstances.

Managing massive, high-profit jobs means having a workforce with a high level of technical mastery, and the members of Power Partner MN foster that mastery within their ranks. Young apprentices being brought into the trade are given instruction that is second to none where it comes to emerging tech in the electrical field. But unlike many industries where the old are simply pushed out as a more savvy generation (or a robot) displaces them, training centers like the JATC located in St Michael, MN, engage in significant continuing ed programs to bolster the current generation of journeypersons.

Having a team of tradespeople who are regularly being trained in on new tools is a boon to the contractor members of Power Partner MN. It means being able to approach new projects with the confidence that your team is prepared for significant technical demands. It means your profit margins will be greater because your time on-site will be spent more efficiently. It means customers are happier because projects are more likely to be completed according to schedule. And more than anything it means that a large group of skilled, hardworking tradespeople know their job won’t be taken away by a gaggle of mechanical pincers. And that’s kinda cool. That’s kinda neat.