Elevate the Maintenance Profession: Start in the Trenches
During the 2012 Golden Globes Award Ceremony in Hollywood, CA, the Foreign press recognized the best in movie and television. Two days ago the best in the music business were recognized at the widely viewed Grammys. This got me thinking; why can’t we glorify real workers who propel our economies forward? Why don’t we recognize maintenance heroes with more fanfare? Why doesn’t our president invite the best maintenance leaders to discuss energy cost saving techniques? Our president recognizes the Super Bowl winners and national college athletes. Why can’t he acknowledge those who are going the extra mile to keep our buildings, our businesses and machines performing at high levels within severe budget constraints on a daily basis?
Since we over-glorify athletes, singers, and actors, it is no surprise that we have a huge surplus of people who possess those skills and not enough engineering and reliability professionals. Sadly, the U.S. does not recognize maintenance management professionals and thus is not striving to raise the performance bar nationwide, and simultaneously not attracting younger generations to pursue these critical career paths.
Believe it or not, each year in Belgium, BEMAS (the Belgain Maintenance Association) recognize a national maintenance manager for excellence in the field. This is a great process; too bad the US is either too large, too fractured or has too many competing interests not to host such a competition. I would be willing to wager that many of the Belgian companies would rank very high in the U.S. because of their stringent evaluations and bench-marking programs.
I recently attended a workforce round table discussion sponsored by Senator Kay Hagan. Several employers attended and mentioned that they had several hundred open positions but had difficulty locating candidates with the proper skill, work attitudes and character that they could hire. Highlighting that this was an issue many companies were facing, Senator Hagan said “despite our national unemployment level of 14 million workers, we have over 3.5 million unfilled jobs”.
It was brought up that in the U.S. the pursuit of the 4 year degree was creating stigmas, slowing the pursuit of technical and maintenance career paths. We definitely need an image overhaul and we need to be more willing to get into the trenches and meet with not only business, academic leaders but also meet face to face with our future generations of workers. To help more willing to wage the battle to convert the image of maintenance from a dirty, nasty job, to the reality that maintenance is a major profit contributor. To help you, here is a presentation to give speakers something to build on and share their personal journey in careers of maintenance and reliability. Feel free to add, change and delete to your liking and present this to those in the trenches so that our youth will get an accurate impression of our profession.
Recently, I spoke to a class at Catawba College and shared how I use social media to elevate the maintenance profession. While there I exposed the students to the real profession and dispelled many of the myths and stigmas. If more of us would volunteer time to educate our youth, we can help reverse the attitudes that are preventing our profession from growth. If we can calibrate the aspirations of our youth with the real current and future needs of our employers, the gap of qualified future workers, will disappear.
Feel free to call me if you need any help. With National Engineering Week approaching in late February, this is a great time for our profession to get in the trenches and fight the Maintenance Crisis.