Moving past tragedies and implementing solutions- GIVE WORK A CHANCE! Once again, our country grieves the man-made catastrophe caused by a deranged citizen who marshaled an arsenal to destroy the lives of 27 victims, including 18 children. It raises, again, the discussion of more legislation of weapons, more fortification of our school systems, and more use of psychotropic medicine and care. But what no one is bringing up is that most perpetrators of these mass killings do not have a JOB or have only academic-oriented skills. Many of these people are brilliant, but have not had vocational training, internships, apprenticeships, and adult mentoring that could help provide the structure and guidance to use their energies in positive ways, not cave to destructive impulses. This past week I helped select the latest round of CNC Machinist scholarship winners. More than 120 adult applicants went through a battery of reading, mathematics, mechanical reasoning and aptitude tests. The top 20 were invited to present their case and answer questions posed by a volunteer panel of employers. Those who were not selected were advised of areas of weakness and given resources to help bolster their skills that will improve their chances for future scholarship selection. During this process I met some extraordinary people, including an 18-year-old who has ten years of work experience. Yes, at eight years old, this young man participated in Habitat for Humanity projects with his dad. Now, he can do more than just swing a hammer; he can help lead projects to build homes. He has also been encouraged to develop his musical talents. He does more than just sing or play an instrument. He actually designs, builds and markets custom-designed guitars. Employers were so impressed by this young man that not only did he secure a scholarship, but several of the employers are vying to hire him. If we can help not just fortify our school systems but break down the walls between the academic world and business world, more of our kids will calibrate their aspirations to the current and future needs of our employers. Also this past week, I met a young adult who is having difficulty getting opportunities because of his shy and introverted nature. We put him through a series of work key-skills assessment tests and uncovered that he has tremendous talent. He set new records for scores in workforce observation, reading for information, and other critical skill sets that will help a future employer become more productive. One of the career counselors concluded that these attributes make him a perfect match for monitoring the HMI-virtualized factory floor control panel system of a major local corporation. Now that the word is out on his ‘super powers,’ other employers want to interview him. I am sure he will not only be working soon, but in an environment where he can use his skill sets to his and his employer’s benefit. Instead of more rules, laws, drugs, and fortifications, we need to figure out what the ‘super powers’ of our current and future workers are, and help develop them. We need more internships, apprenticeships and vocational scholarships. And if we give work a chance, we not only will have a safer nation but a more productive, competitive nation as well!