John’s quick to point out that more has to be done
in the American educational system. For example, shop
classes — once popular — are now rare. As a result, most
students who finish high school are functionally illiterate
when it comes to basic mechanical skills such as the
ability to read a ruler. He also related a complaint that
many employers have of new engineering graduates.
Apparently, they often can’t build anything because they
don’t know how things are made. Theoretical knowledge
alone just doesn’t cut it on the shop floor. To compound
the problem, there’s a shortage of engineers. According
to John, American universities awarded twice as may
The average age of a manufacturing employee in
America is 56 years old.
America’s youth lacks basic skills in math, science,
and even the ability to read a ruler.
25% of American kids don’t graduate high school. In
some states, it’s as high as 45%.
Source — American Welding Society:
By 2010, demand for skilled welders may outstrip
supply by about 200,000. Part of the problem is retiring
baby boomers — in 2009, the average age of welders
was 54 and it keeps climbing.
The ranks of welders, brazers, and solderers — (those
whose job it is to join pieces of metal) has dropped 10
percent since 2000, according to the federal Bureau of
Source — Center for Workforce Development:
Manufacturing is the third largest major industry
sector in the US (behind retail trade and health care),
and contributes 14.1 million jobs to the economy.
Nationwide, 4. 3 percent of firms fall into the
manufacturing sector, but account for 12. 5 percent of
employment and 15. 2 percent of wages.
Within the 86 major subcategories of the
manufacturing sector, motor vehicle parts manufacturing
accounts for the largest share of employment ( 4. 6
percent), followed by plastics product manufacturing ( 4. 5
percent), printing ( 4. 5 percent), animal processing ( 3. 6
percent), aerospace manufacturing ( 3. 3 percent), and
semiconductor manufacturing ( 3. 2 percent).
The United States still holds the greatest shares of
the world’s GDP.
degrees in sports management than in engineering last
year. John Ratzenberger certainly has his work cut out for
him, and, of course, he can’t do it alone. Fortunately,
Nuts and Bolts recently merged with the Fabricators &
Manufacturers Association of America, which works on
multi-level platforms to promote American manufacturing,
including grants and scholarships to nonprofits that
provide day or overnight camps to children who want to
learn the manual arts. To learn more about John and
Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs, and how you too can help,
log onto www.nutsandboltsfoundation.org.
Through his charity (Nuts, Bolts, and Thingamajigs
Foundation), John has committed his resources to
introducing America’s youth to the pleasures of ‘tinkering’
– getting away from their video games and TV sets and
into the backyard building things. In that way, we will
create the next generation of artisans, inventors,
engineers, repairmen, and skilled workers — in short, a
self-sufficient, self-sustaining society. John’s tag line has
become “Little hands build big dreams. Give children
tools and watch them build America.”
John is an outspoken advocate for American-made
products and the companies that keep Americans
working. In 2007, John embarked on a yearlong
commitment with the Association for American
Manufacturing and US Steelworkers to create a
Presidential Town Hall Tour. The Town Hall series brought
attention to issues that American voters were demanding
to hear about — a real commitment from presidential
candidates to ensure a strong manufacturing industry.
During the town hall events, John encouraged voters to
ask the presidential candidates what specific policies they
would enact to strengthen the American manufacturing
base, which is vital to our economic and national security.
John was invited to address Congress and its
Manufacturing Caucus that same year, for which he
prepared his oft-quoted speech “The Industrial Tsunami
Heading Our Way.” He continues to work with politicians
on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the American
manufacturing industry has a voice in Washington.
During his free time, John is an avid sailor, fisherman,
and billiard player. He enjoys international travel, fencing,
and collecting antiques. He plays the drums and belongs
to a bagpipe band, as part of the Emerald Society. Sports
such as karate, yoga, and skeet shooting keep him active.
He has one son and one daughter and lives outside of
Los Angeles, but spends as much time as possible on his
boat, cruising up and down the east coast. SV
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