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Proper Tools for Getting the Job Done


In any occupational field, from construction to electrical to mining, there are a few work protocols that are important in ensuring safety on the job. Many industries require safety specifications for gear, tools and apparel, and it's important to know the pros and cons of what materials are most comfortable, safe and durable.

Safety starts with a good pair of boots. When looking for a pair of work boots, here are four important considerations to address:

Safety Toe. Many jobs require footwear with a safety toe. There are a few options that work best for a number of environments. The most well-known safety toe is a steel-protective toe, used as the ultimate foot protection from falling objects or puncture. Alloy and non-metallic toes are also options, providing a lighter alternative to steel.

Outsole. There are a number of work boot outsole options that can help with work site needs. It's important to consider whether the job is indoor or outdoor, on slippery ground or in the mud, to identify what type of outsole will work best. Various outsole options include static dissipative, oil and slip resistant, wedge and low-lug outsoles and right-angle heels and heavy-lug outsoles.

Boot Materials. There are a number of options, from waterproof protection to breathable liners, built for specific work environments. Consider the location that the boots are needed for and go from there. If working in wetter environments, look for a waterproof membrane inside the boot such as GORE-TEX or Hyper-dri.

Many people do not realize there are boots that can keep feet cool on the job, but one company, Danner (www.danner.com), has created a breathable technology called DXTVent. This technology uses performance fibers to wick away moisture so feet stay cool and comfortable all day long. Companies like Thinsulate work with many boot manufacturers to provide insulation for footwear used in cold climates.

Comfort. Be sure to look for work boot companies that create footwear for comfort. Quad Comfort is a work platform that LaCrosse Footwear (www.lacrossefootwear.com) has built with four layers of cushioning and extra stability for work conditions that require many hours on the job. Increasing comfort will ultimately reduce foot fatigue and should not be forgotten.

Be sure to look for the essential safety components, research the work environment and buy for comfort, stability and durability.

Maintaining Jobs and Work Through Machine Automation


One of the great misleading myths of modern manufacturing is that North America cannot compete in a global manufacturing marketplace and is losing jobs due to lower foreign labor costs.

This belief is not true, according to applications engineers at Makino, a global provider of advanced machining technology. They say the automation of manufacturing processes, including the robotic and conveyor integration of manufacturing work cells, can actually drive the parts production or die and mold manufacturing costs down while maintaining or enhancing quality. Makino has documented such manufacturing examples through customer contacts and interviews.

Investing in such technologically advanced processes has become so productive that the low per-unit-part cost makes domestically manufactured goods competitive with the production of goods with foreign labor wages. Also, the local customer service and the shorter lead time aspects of U.S. and North American manufacturing aides in this competitive formula, making the company more valuable to its customers.

Making these technological upgrades will also save U.S. and North American jobs. Many manufacturers initially feared that by investing in automation technology, jobs would only be lost to the machinery as opposed to foreign competitors.

However, as a number of manufacturing case studies prove, such a technological investment actually helps save and maintain jobs. Hiring also continues to grow at a significant annual rate to keep up with increasing work volume.

In one case study, the cycle times and lead times for many production processes improved dramatically. Some high-volume production parts that were previously manufactured at a rate of two per hour are now being manufactured at a rate of 126 per hour. And, some processes that used to take 12 weeks can now be completed in six.

To learn how your company can utilize work cell automation and integration to effectively compete with foreign markets, contact ProcessSolutions@makino.com. You can also visit Makino on the Web at www.makino.com or call 1-800-552-3288.

Future Auto Technicians Prepare for Lucrative Jobs


A career in the automotive service industry can be very fulfilling, not to mention lucrative. In fact, because automotive technicians need to be well-versed in the highly sophisticated technology and computer systems of today's vehicles, they can earn a substantial salary of anywhere from $58,000 to $108,000.

The growing number of job opportunities for well-qualified service technicians can be attributed to both the increasing number of vehicles on the road and greater use of electronics and computers in today's cars and trucks.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently awarded $2.2 million to the Automotive Youth Education System, a partnership between automotive manufacturers, local dealerships and selected schools that is designed to encourage young people to consider satisfying careers in retail automotive service or repair. The AYES program prepares students for entry-level career positions or advanced studies in automotive technology.

"Automotive service technology is an excellent and rewarding career opportunity for young men and women," said Larry Cummings, president and chief executive officer of AYES. "Believe it or not, today's Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge cars and trucks contain more technology than the Apollo spacecraft that carried astronauts to the moon and back. A career in the automotive service field requires intensive and extensive training."

The AYES program is introduced to students at participating schools during junior year. In addition to taking the required academic courses toward their high school diplomas, students take challenging courses in basic automotive technology or collision repair and refinish.

Eligible students then have full-time internships at dealerships, where they develop their skills under the guidance of experienced technicians. Upon high school graduation and AYES certification, they are prepared to begin full-time employment or to advance their technical education.

For more information, visit www.ayes.org.

From Myspace to My New Job


Between MP3 players, cell phones and social networking sites, today's teen is more connected than ever. The Pew Institute estimates that 93 percent of teens use the Internet and 39 percent of online teens share photos, stories and videos.

Teens are surrounded by electronics and digital media, but are they gaining career-applicable computer skills?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for computer-related occupations has increased due to rapid advances in technology and the development of new computer applications. While schools provide some technology training, teens often protest that computer time and creativity are heavily restricted.

"Technology has truly changed the way our children learn and play," said Roxanne Spillett, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA). "To survive in today's job market, technology skills are key and almost always expected."

BGCA has a long history of providing educational and developmental programs for youth. Technology education has become an integral part of the organization, with 92 percent of Clubs providing technology resources to its members. Through a partnership with Microsoft and Best Buy Children's Foundation, their Club Tech program helps to level the virtual playing field by providing free software and tutorials on developing tech skills. Club Tech lessons are also available to the public and educators for free on their teen-oriented Web site, www.myclubmylife.com.

Christian Agron, 14, has participated in Club Tech for six years. He always believed the technology skills he was acquiring would help him get into college and pursue a career with computers.

In need of a new Web site, the Holyoke Housing Authority contacted Agron after learning of his participation in the BGCA's digital arts program. The job not only gave Agron an opportunity to apply his tech talents, it provided him with a resume-worthy experience.

According to a recent study, teens like Agron who participate in after-school technology programs exhibit increased skills and success. Many also become more positive about finishing high school, attending college and feeling better prepared for work.