Thumbs up and down

May. 05, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

THUMBS UP: Caterpillar program

How can the jobs picture be gloomy for both prospective employees and prospective employers?

When job skills don’t match up to jobs available.

It’s well-documented that while unemployment statistics are showing some improvement, the gap between jobs being offered by employers and jobs skills possessed by workers is growing. Manufacturing facilities all over (including in Lee County) have jobs they can’t fill because applicants don’t possess the goods to do well at the job.

That’s why the Caterpillar Youth Apprentices program, now in its second year, is such a valuable local resource. As was pointed out in Saturday’s edition of The Herald, Caterpillar partners with Central Carolina Community College to provide training (including welding classes at CCCC) to high school students, who can then pursue paid internships at Caterpillar and end up with experience, certification and the foundation for landing a good-paying job down the road.

This partnership program proves what was echoed earlier this week as its second year kicked off — that “education is economic development.” No matter what vocation or careers the 16 students selected for this year’s program pursue, the experience they’ll gain at Caterpillar — in the real-world classroom — will be invaluable to them, and to their future employers.

THUMBS UP: Lora Wright

Lora Wright, owner of Southern Jewelers in downtown Sanford since 1991, has been involved in the retail jewelry business since she was in high school. Now she’s worked her way through the ranks of our state’s top trade association for her business, the North Carolina Jewelers Association, and has begun a two-year term as president.

Her duties at the helm will include being spokesman, lobbying for other independent jewelry store owners and helping put together the group’s conventions. But for those who know the energetic and effervescent Wright, handling those duties — while continuing to operate her store on Steele Street — will be a piece of cake. Congratulations to Wright on assuming this leadership position.

THUMBS DOWN: Spring weather

For years, the Sanford Pottery Festival — always held the weekend before Mother’s Day — was plagued by bad weather. Regardless of what kind of spring central North Carolina had, you could almost count on a rainy forecast for the first weekend in May.

About the only type of weather we haven’t seen this spring so far is “sunny and mild,” which is what spring is supposed to be about, right? We’ve not seen severe weather, thankfully, but all over the country temperature extremes — even for spring — are being felt. May snows in the midwest, record highs in the southwest, and what seems to be our standard weather lately — cloudy, rainy, cool — have been the norm. It’s the case again this weekend for us and the folks who ventured to the inaugural Sanford Arts & Vine Festival yesterday (and today, where rains are expected).

We all complain about the weather, but we know there’s a bright side. At least we think there is — when the sun comes out and the clouds roll away, we’ll look for it.