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  • Tracie Nobles

    In my bachelors degree at Texas A&M University, I was able to take individual taxation before the recruiting season. This made a significant impact on my decision to pursue taxation as my career. I think that it is important that students be introduced to taxation early on in their academic program.

  • Bruce K Behn

    Julie,

    Thanks for all you do and thanks for all the work you did to get this webiste up and running.
    Bruce

  • Bruce K Behn

    Larry,

    Thanks for your thoughts and willingess to assist and go Badgers!!

    Bruce

  • Bruce K Behn

    John,

    Thanks for taking the time to post your comments--it is greatly appreciated.  We will be reading this article.

    Bruce

  • Bruce K Behn

    James,

    Thanks for taking the time to post your comment.  I would hope a discussion on this would take place--any thoughts?

    Bruce

  • James E Bodtke

    We already have plenty of examples of the cost of doing nothing.  Let's explore the alternatives and seek a meeting of the minds on how to solve these problems.

  • Robert E Jensen

    "The Fields That Students Flock to During Recessions," by Josh Zumbrun, The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2015 ---
    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/07/17/the-fields-that-students-flock-to-during-recessions/ 

    Graduating into a recession stunts the careers of the young men and women entering the labor market. But it turns out a lot of students don’t sit back and passively accept this outcome: Many students who see a recession during their early college years switch to majors with better job prospects.

    According to new research from Benjamin Keys at the University of ChicagoBrian Cadena at the University of Colorado Boulder and Erica Blom at Edgeworth Economics, the shifts can be dramatic.

    When the national unemployment rate rises by 1 percentage point, the share of women studying business rises by nearly two-thirds of a percentage point. The share of women studying nursing climbs by nearly a third of a percentage point. An additional quarter percentage point switch into accounting. Meanwhile, enrollment in education, literature and languages, sociology and psychology drops.

     

    Jensen Comment
    Accounting ranks number three from the top. It may well be on the top if it did not take five years (150 selective credits) and a certification examination to become a CPA. It is true that accounting firms are always hiring when the economy goes up or down. However, in public accounting there's a lot of forced turnover before employees are eligible to become partners. The secondary market declines somewhat for accountants who do not become partners after working in CPA firms for 5-10 years.

    The low-ranking fields tend to be low ranking in boom or bust in the economy. Also many high-ranking fields like nursing are high ranking in boom or bust.

  • Robert E Jensen

    "The Fields That Students Flock to During Recessions," by Josh Zumbrun, The Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2015 ---
    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/07/17/the-fields-that-students-flock-to-during-recessions/ 

    Graduating into a recession stunts the careers of the young men and women entering the labor market. But it turns out a lot of students don’t sit back and passively accept this outcome: Many students who see a recession during their early college years switch to majors with better job prospects.

    According to new research from Benjamin Keys at the University of ChicagoBrian Cadena at the University of Colorado Boulder and Erica Blom at Edgeworth Economics, the shifts can be dramatic.

    When the national unemployment rate rises by 1 percentage point, the share of women studying business rises by nearly two-thirds of a percentage point. The share of women studying nursing climbs by nearly a third of a percentage point. An additional quarter percentage point switch into accounting. Meanwhile, enrollment in education, literature and languages, sociology and psychology drops.

     

    Jensen Comment
    Accounting ranks number three from the top. It may well be on the top if it did not take five years (150 selective credits) and a certification examination to become a CPA. It is true that accounting firms are always hiring when the economy goes up or down. However, in public accounting there's a lot of forced turnover before employees are eligible to become partners. The secondary market declines somewhat for accountants who do not become partners after working in CPA firms for 5-10 years.

    The low-ranking fields tend to be low ranking in boom or bust in the economy. Also many high-ranking fields like nursing are high ranking in boom or bust.

  • Robert E Jensen

    Jensen Note
    Entry level accountants are usually called "staff accountants." Upon graduation some of the most plentiful jobs in the world are for staff accountants. Note that in the USA, however, CPA firms generally require that students become qualified to immediately take the CPA examination, and that generally takes a fifth year of study, usually but not always for a masters degree. The same can be said for chartered accountants in many other nations.

    Staff Accountants are in the Top Ten Below
    "10 jobs with the best salary potential," Jada A. Graves, US News & World Report, February 3, 2015 ---
    http://www.businessinsider.com/jobs-with-the-best-salary-potential-2015-2

    Jensen Comment
    Also important is job-change opportunity. Many college graduates go to work for CPA firms never intending to stay with those firms. Those firms offer terrific opportunity for technical training and exposure to clients needing accounting, internal auditing, forensics, information technology, and tax services. More often than not those that leave the CPA firms and stay in the work force go with clients.

    Salaries may or may not be higher, but there is often less travel and job stress when working for a client. Making partner with a CPA firm often entails long hours and public relations skills requiring special talents. Partners are paid well, but less than 15% of the new hires in large CPA firms become partners. Partners generally have skills in obtaining and retaining clients. The same, by the way, is true of law firms where much of the technical work is often performed by lower-paid non-partners.

    My point is that students hoping to become partners in CPA firms and law firms should take courses in communications. Foreign languages can also help since sometimes the path to partnership is easier for USA accounting graduates to work in off shore offices of multinational CPA firms such as working in offices in Moscow, Mexico City, and various cities in South America and Asia.

    Bob Jensen's threads on careers ---
    http://www.businessinsider.com/jobs-with-the-best-salary-potential-2015-2

  • Robert E Jensen

    How to Mislead With Statistics:  Ignore the Variance and Ignore the Outliers (in this case graduates without law jobs)
    "Why Huge Salaries Don't Necessarily Make Law Grads Rich," bv Akane Otani, Bloomberg Businessweek, October 22, 2014 ---
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-10-22/law-school-grads-make-good-salaries-but-have-high-debt-and-few-jobs

    Graduates of Harvard Law School, among all the graduate schools in the U.S., make the most money, earning a median salary of $201,000 once they are 10 years out of school, according to a new report. Law schools rank higher than other graduate programs when it comes to salaries, yet skyrocketing debt and a thinning job market for law graduates may dampen the appeal of a J.D.

    Harvard Law School, Emory University School of Law, and Santa Clara University School of Law topped salary rankings for graduate and professional programs in a study released Wednesday by compensation-tracking company PayScale. Of the top 20 schools, 12 were law schools. The rest were business schools.

    Despite a few law schools dominating the rankings, law school graduates did not hold claim to the most lucrative degree on the market. The median midcareer salary for a law school graduate was $139,300—a far smaller sum than the figures boasted by the schools that topped PayScale’s rankings. Considering that the median debt load for law school graduates rose to $140,616 in 2012, even a six-figure salary doesn’t sound as glamorous.

    What’s more, Payscale’s data didn’t factor in law school grads who don’t have jobs—and jobs are scarcer for lawyers now than they have been in years. The employment rate for law school graduates has dropped six years in a row. “Since 1985, there have only been two classes with an overall employment rate below [84.5 percent], and both of those occurred in the aftermath of the 1990-91 recession,” the National Association for Law Placement said in a report this summer. Over the past decade, at least 12 firms, accounting for more than 1,000 lawyers, have shut their doors. Others are eyeing cuts among partners.

    One reason why a J.D. isn’t a get-rich-quick guarantee is the wide range of salaries within the field of law. A new graduate working as a public interest lawyer or for local government will make an average of $60,000 or less a year, according to the NALP.

    “If you want to be a public defender vs. a corporate attorney, there is going to be a big difference in terms of ability to pay off your loans,” says Lydia Frank, editorial and marketing director for PayScale. “Because there’s such a wide variety in earnings potential, you can’t assume that any job you’re going to pursue with a J.D. is going to be equal.”

    While the salary rankings may provide a good benchmark for what’s possible with an elite law degree, great job connections, and a lucrative specialty, the average would-be lawyer should think carefully about the return on an investment in legal education.

    “If you’re going to take out ‘X’ amount in student loans, you really want to have a good understanding of the likelihood of being able to repay that loan in a timely fashion,” Frank says. “I think it still behooves everybody to really examine things other than salary potential, such as employment potential for JDs.”

    Jensen Comment
    Traditionally, accounting graduates who go to work for large CPA firms get great training and great client exposure. The bad news is that probabilities of attaining partnerships after 6-10 years are very low. The good news is that prospects of going to work for clients are high, and new graduates never wanted the pressures, travel, and time commitments of partnerships in CPA firms in the first place.

    Among the least-wanted pressures are the pressures to obtain new clients via lots of night and weekend community volunteer work, golf outings that aren't all that much fun, and selling the firms' services over and over and over year after year Some of the things that discourage faculty from striving to be college presidents also discourage staff accountants and lawyers from seeking partnerships.

    My point is that winnings of the  highest salaries as partners in both law and accounting firms are not all they're cracked up to be in terms of job stress, long hours, frequent travel, glad-handing, broken marriages, neglected children, etc. Most of the very good lawyers and accountants want no part of this partnership lifestyle even at much higher compensation. Men and women partners who are also parents are advised to have spouses who will take on the chores of child rearing and keeping the home fires burning.

    A bummer for finance and marketing graduates is performance-based compensation. For example, landing that job on Wall Street sounds great until you realize that your pay is really based upon sales commissions. It's not a great life unless you really like to spend your days wooing customers to buy what you're selling (like bonds and derivatives) year after year after year.

    Bob Jensen's threads on careers ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers

  • Robert E Jensen

    Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) ---
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_of_Sponsoring_Organizations_of_the_Treadway_Commission

    From the CFO Journal's Morning Ledger on September 24, 2014

    Implementing COSO's Internal Control-Integrated Framework ---
    http://deloitte.wsj.com/cfo/2014/09/26/implementing-cosos-internal-control-integrated-framework/

    To unlock the value that can be achieved by adopting COSO's 2013 Internal Control-Integrated Framework, management should take a step back and evaluate how it is addressing the risks to its organization in light of its size, complexity, global reach and risk profile. Learn about leading internal control practices that may help address common challenges related to implementing the 2013 Framework, as well as perspectives on applying the framework for operational and regulatory compliance purposes.

    Continue Reading Today's Article --- http://deloitte.wsj.com/cfo/2014/09/26/implementing-cosos-internal-control-integrated-framework/

    Read More --- Deloitte Insights »http://deloitte.wsj.com/cfo/

    Bob Jensen's threads on managerial accounting ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Theory02.htm#ManagementAccounting

  • Robert E Jensen

    Here Are The Chances An Internship Lands You A Job In Your Industry ---
    http://www.businessinsider.com/internships-to-jobs-2014-9#ixzz3D1AhroIH

    . . .

    From our reading of 2013 data from LinkedIn, here's the percentage of internships that lead to jobs in the following industries:

    • Accounting: 60% 
    • Oil & energy: 33%
    • Investment banking: 31%
    • PR & communications: 28%
    • Law practice: 26%
    • Apparel & fashion: 25%
    • Hospitality: 24%
    • Government administration: 23%
    • Publishing: 22%
    • Museums: 21%
    • International affairs: 20%
    • NGO management: 19%

    The task, of course, is landing those gigs in the first place. We got you covered: here are our guides to nabbing a Google or Wall Street internship. 

    Bob Jensen's threads on careers ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers

  • Robert E Jensen

    "B-Schools Finally Acknowledge: Companies Want MBAs Who Can Code," by Cory Weinberg, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 11, 2014 ---
    http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-07-11/b-schools-finally-acknowledge-companies-want-mbas-who-can-code

    Jensen Comment
    One question is whether this is mostly a filtering criterion or a genuine criterion for hiring. For example, some popular business schools require students to complete two courses in calculus before matriculating as undergraduate business majors. It's not so much that calculus is a prerequisite for business courses as it is that calculus weeds out the dummies.


    It's doubtful that many Big Four partners can code.
    More important are perceived trustworthiness and going the extra mile in client relations. In my opinion, most partners are the ones visible in public service (such as volunteer work for communities), work pro bono a lot of nights and weekends, and play a lot of golf with clients and prospective clients. I used to belong to a downtown bridge club in Bangor, Maine. A senior partner in a law firm who belonged to that club told me that his job was to get the clients that were served by his technical staff. Some partners with marginal devotion devotion to religion are extremely active in their churches, mosques, and synagogues. My point --- for partners it's the extra hours of the week building relationships outside the office that really count.

    "The qualities of a Big Four partner:  Chris Carter, Crawford Spence and Claire Dambrin studied Big Four firms in three countries to find out what qualities make a partner," Economia, July 16, 2014 ---
    http://economia.icaew.com/finance/july-2014/essay-the-qualities-of-a-big-four-partner 

    The Big Four are quintessentially global organisations, their logos adorn major commercial centres and they are prominent players in most western economies. Unlike their corporate counterparts, their governance structures are more opaque. This is a consequence of the partnership model which gives a high degree of independence to each country in which the Big Four operates. Global organisations –in general – and the Big Four in particular invite the following question: to what extent is there convergence or divergence between their operations in different countries?

    We set out to answer this question by researching partners in Canada, France and the UK. We were particularly interested in the types of people that became partner and the process of them actually getting there. Was this similar across the three countries or were there striking differences?

    The broad career structure is much the same across the three contexts: following qualification, employees move into the manager position – during which time many tend to leave the firm – before proceeding to senior manager, director and ultimately partner. Only 2-3% of members of the Big Four will ever make partner; ascension to this position is to enter the elite of the accounting profession. In provincial cities, Big Four partners are well known “business celebrities”, while in capital cities they are players within their service lines. Partners are the pinnacle of the accounting profession for those that remain in private practice.

    We started by looking at British and Canadian partners. What we found was remarkably similar: it takes most partners 15-17 years to become a partner after joining; 60 to 70 hour weeks are the norm; partners are more likely to be white and male; the process of becoming a partner has become far more formalised than it was in the past; most people who make partnership highlight the importance of “having a good mentor” to help them navigate the complex, Byzantine politics of a Big Four firm.

    To add to this picture, interviewees emphasised the importance of trust: does the firm trust a candidate enough to make them a part-owner? All of this takes place against a broader economic backdrop which will determine whether a particular service is deemed worthy of supporting a further partner. The economic conditions can in boom times create more partnerships in a firm; recessionary times can preclude gifted candidates from making partner.

    We talked to over 50 partners, ex-partners and people who didn’t make partner in Britain and Canada. The similarities far overshadowed any differences. Partners were very much “self-made men” and, save for a few exceptions, were drawn from modest social backgrounds. This meritocratic quality was deeply infused within the firms we visited, with a notable ‘can do’ ethos. The driven quality of the partners often extended to their leisure pursuits. Whereas the stereotype is of a partner playing a good deal of golf, they were much more likely to be competing in endurance cycle races or long distance running events. The participation in endurance sports is a fitting metaphor. Partners are driven, high energy people who exude self-confidence.

    By midway through our research we were accustomed to partners recounting that “their career was different”. This statement surprised us as most of the partners spent most of their careers in one firm, something that is very unusual in the contemporary workplace, and we imagined that there was a distinct career path. The expression, however, spoke to the different ways in which the partners had proved themselves.

    In every case, the accountant “proved themselves” through completing a difficult piece of work that gained praise from the firm. This demonstrated that the accountant had ability and could be trusted by the organisation. This building of reputation brought the accountant into new networks in the firm where more opportunities arose. Proving oneself as being very good at a complex job is generally enough to get a promotion to director. Beyond that, wannabe partners need to demonstrate that they can move effortlessly with senior executives in client firms and that they can generate revenue. It’s a cliché, but cash is king. The Big Four are packed full of extremely competent technical specialists – what makes someone stand out is their ability to generate fee income. Entrepreneurialism is a prime quality.

    The similarities between British and Canadian partners were striking regarding this topic, in fact the only compelling difference was that British partners went for football and rugby metaphors, while their Canadian counterparts used ice hockey and NFL.

    We travelled to France to find out about the French experience. Our intuition was that the capacity to generate new business would be crucial there too but that leverages to increase turnover might be of a different nature. In particular we expected that belonging to a cultural or social elite would be essential for partners to bring in new business in France. The Big Four are similarly prominent in France, although there are different rules around audit rotation. What became immediately clear was the Big Four are structured differently in France.

    First, it was incredibly important where an employee had studied. In France, there are a number of Grandes Ecoles that are, in effect, elite Business Schools. The Big Four strive to recruit a quota from each of these schools. Unlike in Britain, where the Big Four recruit from a wide range of universities and where partners are pretty diverse in terms of their educational backgrounds, in France attending one of these Grande Ecoles will vastly increase your chances of getting recruited in the first instance, and is even more important in rising to partner grade in the second instance. One of our French partners explained: “We are worried when we don’t have enough ‘parisiennes’ [graduates of top Grandes Ecoles]. I find that daft but in this firm we always have the illusion that if you haven’t been to a ‘parisienne’ then you can’t be a partner. That said, given that the clients of tomorrow will have studied at the same place, it is better to have them.”

    The quote reveals a great deal about how educational background is a determinant of future success in the Big Four in France. Simply put, having graduated from a top school (a parisienne) marks out an employee as special and puts them onto a different career trajectory from those who had attended more routine universities. In France Big Four firms agree with each other on starting salary grids depending on the school category of their recruits. High expectations are placed very early on their recruits from Grandes Ecoles and this has a very basic economic rationale.

    It is through the process of offering parisiennes more varied and exciting work – projects that add value and generally “pampering” them – that their “specialness” becomes a reality in the French Big Four. Contrary to what we expected, educational pedigree actually becomes more important at the partner level: it is easier for graduates of the Grandes Ecoles to interact with each other and so future sources of revenue will come through the conversion of their educational background into social skills and new business for the firm. It is a fascinating contrast to the British and Canadian experiences where the treatment of recruits is much more homogeneous. More broadly, the French experience is suggestive of the grip that Grandes Ecoles have on elite careers within the French corporate sector.

    The Grandes Ecoles cast a long shadow over the Big Four in France; this raises questions as to whether a different set of qualities are required to become partner. A key insight from our research study is that the pressures that French partners and aspirant partners face are much the same as in Britain and Canada: clients need to be kept happy; new business needs to be generated and delivered; new service lines need to be developed; for personal career strategies, aspirant partners need to be seen as less technical and more strategic.

    In short, the descriptions of the Big Four in France were remarkably similar to their counterparts in Britain and Canada. What was particularly striking was the creed of commercialism that underpins the Big Four across the three countries. One partner in France explained: “The first thing we look at is [the candidate’s] commercial skills. Dilution [of profit-per-partner] is a real concern for us. If partners don’t bring in revenue, the partners’ committee will lose money because there is less to share in the end. So the capacity to make business grow obviously matters a lot.”

    This quote could have come from any of the firms in any of the three countries. The ability to generate business and ‘grow the cake’ is an absolutely central skill for someone who wants to make partner. The central difference between Britain, Canada and France is that in the French case the assumption is that being a graduate of a Grandes Ecoles will help generate new business. In Britain and Canada it is demonstrably not the case that an elite degree will lead to these outcomes. In France, attendance at one of these schools has a huge bearing on an alumnus’s future career in the Big Four.

    Our research emphasises that people skills – the ability to get on with people and build durable networks – are crucial to success in a Big Four career. These skills need to be converted into revenues. To put this in some sort of context, the following revenues were quoted to us. In Canada, one interviewee suggested that a partner needed to generate around $3m (Canadian) per annum (£1.63m), in France this figure was estimated at €3m (£2.4m), whereas in Britain, a figure of £2m was frequently cited. Partners are clearly under pressure to generate vast sums of fee income for the Big Four; the prospect of being able to generate such fees is crucial to ascending to a partnership.

    Continued in article

    See more at: http://economia.icaew.com/finance/july-2014/essay-the-qualities-of-a-big-four-partner#sthash.BukvhkPO.dpuf

    Bob Jensen's threads on careers are at
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers

  • Robert E Jensen

    "Jobs for Humanities Majors?" Accuracy in Academia, April 25, 2014 ---
    http://www.academia.org/jobs-for-humanities-majors/

    . . .

    “Upon graduating from college, those who majored in the humanities and social science made, on average, $26,271 in 2010 and 2011, slightly more than those in science and mathematics but less than those in engineering and in professional and pre-professional fields,” Vartan Gregorian writes in the Carnegie Reporter. “However, by their peak earning age of 56 to 60, these individuals earned $66,185, putting them about $2,000 ahead of professional and pre-professional majors in the same age bracket.“

    Jensen Questions
    Top undergraduate humanities majors typically go into professions later on such as those that go to law schools and become attorneys and those that obtain MBA degrees from prestigious universities and become business executives. Is it surprising that graduates of prestigious law schools and MBA programs become highly paid professionals? In such instances undergraduate and graduate degrees are confounded making it impossible to attribute cause to one of the two diplomas. In other words, correlation is not causation.

    Humanities majors that get into prestigious law schools and MBA programs are cream of the crop humanities majors. Among professional majors such as undergraduate business majors the entire spectrum may from high to low grade averages may be in the business professions. My point is that the comparisons may be between top humanities majors with low-to-high business majors.

    The $66,185 average at age 55-60 is below the starting salaries of most engineers and close to the starting salaries of new hires in public accounting firms. It is not as impressive to claim success if humanities majors after 30 years on the job are doing not much better than the starting employees in some of the higher paying professions such as engineering, accounting, and computer science graduates.

    My point is not to put down the total value of being a humanities major. However, I think there are some quirks in the data that need to be investigated by professionals before putting too much faith in questionable conclusions.

    Bob Jensen's threads on careers are at
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers

  • Robert E Jensen

    "Where the Jobs Are," Inside Higher Ed, April 23, 2014 ---
    http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2014/04/23/where-jobs-are#sthash.NKe4NhNO.dpbs

    A new analysis of available jobs finds that the highest demand (among openings for college graduates) is for white-collar professional occupations (33 percent) and science and technology occupations (28 percent). The analysis -- by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce -- is consistent with that center's past research, in finding many more opportunities for those with a bachelor's degree than for those without a college degree.

    The new study is based on online job advertisements. The most in-demand professional jobs are accountants/auditors and medical/health service managers. In STEM, the most in-demand jobs are for applications software developers and computer systems analysts.

    Jensen Comment
    There's a bit of mixing of apples and oranges here. The study says it looks at bachelor's degrees. But in in order to take the CPA exam accountants and auditors mush have 150 credits which for most graduates translates to a masters degree. Also many medical/health service programs are graduates of masters of health care administration programs such as the graduate health care administration program at Trinity University.

    In some cases like chemistry and biology the job prospects with a bachelor's degree are mostly lousy McJobs. But those majors have an edge for being admitted to graduate programs, especially medical schools, where opportunities abound upon graduation.

    For those rejected for graduate schools or who cannot afford graduate schools, career opportunities are probably better in the skilled trades such as those $150,000 - $200,000 welding jobs.

    Bob Jensen's career helpers ---
    http://www.trinity.edu/rjensen/Bookbob1.htm#careers


    "Welders Make $150,000? Bring Back Shop Class Taking pride in learning to make and build things can begin in high school. Plenty of jobs await," by John Mandel, The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2014 ---
    http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303663604579501801872226532?mod=djemMER_h&mg=reno64-wsj

    In American high schools, it is becoming increasingly hard to defend the vanishing of shop class from the curriculum. The trend began in the 1970s, when it became conventional wisdom that a four-year college degree was essential. As Forbes magazine reported in 2012, 90% of shop classes have been eliminated for the Los Angeles unified school district's 660,000 students. Yet a 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics study shows that 48% of all college graduates are working in jobs that don't require a four-year degree.

    Too many young people have four-year liberal-arts degrees, are thousands of dollars in debt and find themselves serving coffee at Starbucks SBUX +1.10% or working part-time at the mall. Many of them would have been better off with a two-year skilled-trade or technical education that provides the skills to secure a well-paying job.

    A good trade to consider: welding. I recently visited Pioneer Pipe in the Utica and Marcellus shale area of Ohio and learned that last year the company paid 60 of its welders more than $150,000 and two of its welders over $200,000. The owner, Dave Archer, said he has had to turn down orders because he can't find enough skilled welders.

    According to the 2011 Skills Gap Survey by the Manufacturing Institute, about 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled nationally because employers can't find qualified workers. To help produce a new generation of welders, pipe-fitters, electricians, carpenters, machinists and other skilled tradesmen, high schools should introduce students to the pleasure and pride they can take in making and building things in shop class.

    American employers are so yearning to motivate young people to work in manufacturing and the skilled trades that many are willing to pay to train and recruit future laborers. CEO Karen Wright of Ariel Corp. in Mount Vernon, Ohio, recently announced that the manufacturer of gas compressors is donating $1 million to the Knox County Career Center to update the center's computer-integrated manufacturing equipment, so students can train on the same machines used in Ariel's operations.

    In rural Minster, Ohio, near the Indiana border, electrician and entrepreneur Jack Buschur is creating the Auglaize & Mercer County Business Education Alliance, which will use private-sector dollars to fund a skilled-trade ambassador to walk the halls of local high schools with the mission of recruiting teenagers into these fields. This ambassador will also work to persuade school guidance counselors and administrators to change their tune that college is the only route to prosperity, and to encourage them to inform their students about the many opportunities in skilled trades.

    At Humtown Products in Columbiana, Ohio, near the Pennsylvania border, CEO Mark Lamoncha is coordinating tours for local high-school guidance counselors to visit his company so that they can learn about job opportunities in advanced manufacturing and 3-D printing. Rather than having students seeing posters only for Ohio State, Pitt, Harvard and Yale in their high-school hallways, he wants to convince the schools' guidance counselors to also post signs for the Choffin Career & Technical Center in Youngstown and the New Castle School of Trades in Pulaski, Pa.

    The Ohio School Board Association recently heard a similar message—from the actor John Ratzenberger, whom you might remember as Cliff Clavin, the mailman from the 1980s sitcom "Cheers." Mr. Ratzenberger these days is devoting considerable charitable time and dollars toward raising the profile of America's skilled laborers as role models for young people.

    He began this effort in 2004 with a TV show called "Made in America," focusing attention on the rewarding labor of blue-collar workers making everything from Steinway pianos and Wonder Bread to Caterpillar CAT +1.37% equipment and Chris Craft yachts. Now he's crisscrossing the country urging schools to invest in vocational education. On "Cheers," Cliff Clavin never appeared to be overly industrious, but in promoting the restoration of shop class in U.S. high schools, Mr. Ratzenberger is working hard to put young Americans in good jobs. Educators could learn a thing or two from him.

    Mr. Mandel is the treasurer of Ohio.