At Grainger Inc., a national industrial-supply distributor, the work is all about customer needs. Lately, that goes far beyond making sales and filling orders.
“The skill trades are our customers, and the customers I talk to tell me there are fewer and fewer young people coming in [for jobs] than there were in years past,” said Jim Crowley, branch manager for Grainger’s Warwick office. “These are good, high-paying jobs that can’t be outsourced. If you have students looking to build a career, the skill trades offer a nice opportunity.”
Crowley isn’t talking about anything new here. Professionals and educators say an upcoming wave of retirees will leave a workforce hole that younger workers often lacking needed skills just can’t fill.
But Crowley and Grainger are part of a movement that is providing what they hope is at least a partial solution – partnering with local high schools and colleges to promote and support technical and trade career training through financial donations and learning opportunities.
The Grainger Foundation, established by Grainger founder William W. Grainger in 1949, recently donated $10,000 to William M. Davies Jr. Career and Technical High School in Lincoln. The money will be used to purchase equipment for the school’s machine-technology program.
“Donations by our business partners really help us purchase equipment for training that we may not be able to acquire otherwise due to limited outside funding,” said Bernie Blumenthal, the school’s business/education partnership coordinator. “The industry changes, and we want to make sure that we match the changes so that our students are well-prepared to enter the workforce or go on to college knowing they have acquired state-of-the-art training.”
Grainger also makes donations, in the form of scholarship money, to New England Institute of Technology’s electrical, heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning programs.