president of a local man- ufacturer, Larry Davis has been involved for more than two decades in hiring people. Moreover, he doesn't believe the manufacturing industry is de- clining even though the number of factory jobs has dropped. As evidence he points to produc- tivity gains in manufacturing hydraulic valve manifolds at his Mishawaka company, Daman Products Co., Inc. And the key reason for better productivity, he said, is not high technology rather, it is the high self-worth and confidence of Daman's employees.
From his employer's vantage point, Davis has developed views about issues facing at-risk and disadvantaged young people, whose plight and impact on the business community were discussed at the 2006 Youth Symposium on the Emerging Workforce, which he attended on March 16. Among the most troubling issues, Davis said, is what he sees as a "gap between what these kids need to under-stand about themselves and what you need to be successful."
Upon entering a workplace environment, at-risk young people are fearful because "they don't have the inner belief they have what they need to succeed," he said March 24, 2006, in an interview. However, Davis noted that he felt connected to the remarks of Dr. James Garbarino, who emphasized that numerous, complex factors come into play to cause the situations faced by at-risk youth and that these young people are not solely to blame for their circumstances. Davis, in fact, seemed to be striving to achieve a deep understanding of some gang, at-risk youth, violence, and other issues, as urged by Garbarino.
EDUCATORS 'SERIOUS, HEART-FELT PEOPLE''BUT THEY ARE NOT DRIVEN BY RESULTS, LIKE BUSINESSEducators and social service professionals are "serious, heart-felt people" with a drive to help others, "but [they] are not results driven," Davis observed. A results-driven environment would feature activities and information that would help at-risk youth "and provide them tools to be successful [in the workplace]," he added.
For disadvantaged youth, "there needs to be a way for them to walk through [life stages toward maturing] ... and arrive at a conclusion that 'I'm responsible' and the next step is what do I do to take responsibility," Davis noted.
Emphasizing that a "complaint without a suggestion [for im- provement] is useless," he observed "a 50-percent failure rate would kill any business." Davis was referring to a recent statistic that half of minority young people drop-out of public high schools. Noting that some at-risk youth leave school out of bore- dom, Davis said, "Bill Strickland is right on the money about the importance of passion."
In Daman's workplace, "people are incredibly able to learn when they are interested and engaged." He added, "Kids need to be so wrapped-up in the process that they learn without knowing they're learning."
Davis has observed two skills "for life and business" that are not taught in schools but should be: how to organize something; and understanding processes. If young people could be taught about the five "S" principles of organization sort, set order, shine, stan- dardize, and sustain they would gain a "life skill and a work skill that kids can get their hands around."
Regarding learning to understand processes, Davis said, "We should all be process-conscious and looking at things in terms of process and how we can improve it." In a business, "if you have 50 people thinking about process improvement, that's powerful."
Moreover, Davis, who wrote a four-page report entitled "Har- vesting the Energy of Leadership and Innovation within our Education System," said, "Organization and process improvement are not taught in schools but they're something you can have some passion about."
Page written by CHUCK KNEBL, webmaster & writer.