Harbor Freight Leadership Lab

There may be ‘born leaders,’ but there surely are far too few to depend on them. Leadership must be learned and can be learned.
—Peter F. Drucker

Harbor Freight Leadership Lab

There may be ‘born leaders,’ but there surely are far too few to depend on them. Leadership must be learned and can be learned.
—Peter F. Drucker

Boosting excellence
in skilled trades
education by developing
effective leaders

Among the greatest risks in our transition to a knowledge economy is that we will under-employ millions who want to work both with their heads and their hands. The strength of our society depends on young people finding hands-on jobs that offer not only economic security, but also become careers of meaning and contribution. Skilled trades education (STE) programs provide pathways to careers in the skilled trades and many of the 30 million “good jobs” (defined by the Georgetown University Good Jobs Project as paying an average of $55,000 a year) in the United States that do not require a college degree.

Unfortunately, the stigma associated with what was once known as vocational education prevents high-quality skilled trades education programs from reaching many of the students who would benefit most from them. Black, Latinx and Native American families are often understandably dubious of STE, as vocational education programs in the second half of the 20th century were used to track people of color into low-paying, dead-end jobs, while women were almost completely excluded from productive careers in the skilled trades.

Another hurdle for today’s STE programs—which have demonstrated improved academic and economic outcomes for participants—involves the perspectives of school administrators, school board members and other educational and civic leaders, who undervalue and fail to support STE programs as a result of the “College for All” movement.

Skilled trades education offers answers to many of the questions about equity, opportunity and racial justice roiling society today by providing pathways to economic mobility and personal dignity to young people from traditionally marginalized and vulnerable communities.

America needs a robust skilled trades education sector. To get there, we will first need to transform the way STE and the skilled trades are seen, and our investments in the sector should not be one-size-fits-all. The country’s vast and diverse collection of regional economies and education systems will require an equally diverse set of skilled trades programs.

To address this need, the Drucker Institute has partnered with Harbor Freight Tools for Schools to launch the Harbor Freight Leadership Lab for incubating programs that boost the number and effectiveness of K-12 skilled trades education leaders in public school systems across America. (The Drucker Institute is also a partner with Harbor Freight Tools for Schools on its Prize for Teaching Excellence.)

This multi-sector initiative brings together leaders from across the skilled trades education ecosystem and aims to:

deliver practical leadership tools and certifications for skilled trades education leaders’ career advancement;
expand and connect communities of skilled trades leaders and educators; and
elevate the skilled trades education sector’s performance, prestige and standing in society.

For more information about the

Harbor Freight Leadership Lab, please contact Phalana Tiller at Phalana.Tiller@cgu.edu.