Nick Pinchuk is chairman and chief executive officer of Snap-on Incorporated. He was named president and chief operating officer in April 2007, when he was also appointed to Snap-on’s board. Nick was elected chief executive officer in December 2007 and chairman in April 2009. He joined Snap-on in 2002 as senior vice president and president of Snap-on’s Worldwide Commercial and Industrial Group.
Before joining Snap-on, Nick was president, global refrigeration operations, a multi-billion dollar business unit of Carrier Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corporation. Prior to that, he served in executive and operational capacities within Carrier and United Technologies. Previously, he was with the Ford Motor Company. He also served in Vietnam as an officer in the United States Army.
Nick received an M.B.A. from Harvard, and master and bachelor of science degrees in engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He currently serves on the board of directors of Columbus McKinnon Corporation; on the board of directors for the National Association of Manufacturers; on the Board of Trustees of the Manufacturer’s Alliance for Productivity and Innovation; on the Senior Advisory Board of the Syracuse University School of Management; and on the Board of Trustees of Carthage College.
Nick is an outspoken leader on STEM, workforce development, and technical education and careers. Recognizing his role in the formation of our nation’s technical education agenda, the Career and Technical Education Foundation named Nick National Business Leader of the Year in 2011. SkillsUSA named him Champion of the Year in 2012, recognizing his extensive support for the growth of a skilled American workforce. The International Technology and Engineering Educators Association recognized Nick in 2015 for his far-reaching professional contributions. Recently, Nick was named to the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame.
Snap-on Incorporated is a leading global innovator, manufacturer and marketer of tools, equipment, diagnostics, repair information and systems solutions for professional users. Products and services include hand and power tools, tool storage, diagnostics software, information and management systems, shop equipment and other solutions for vehicle dealerships and repair centers, as well as customers in critical industries, including government, aviation, natural resources and power generation. Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a $3.4 billion, S&P 500 company headquartered in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Snap-on embraces technical education and careers as a national priority, particularly as it relates to STEM skills. The Company advances STEM competencies through extensive involvement with SkillsUSA, the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), and schools at all levels. Snap-on is committed to arming the American workforce with STEM and other critical capabilities necessary to compete in the global economy.
America is in the midst of a global competition…for jobs…for prosperity…and for the future. STEM/technical education is our primary weapon in this conflict. In fact, the up-skilling of the American workforce is the seminal issue of our time. No path to prosperity in America is possible without a manufacturing renaissance. And, no ongoing prosperity is possible without a strong middle class.
But, our middle class is under pressure and the American Dream is under question. Media across our Country are screaming that the middle is shrinking…it’s eroding…it’s at risk. This is a big problem because it’s the great middle, advanced by the American workforce, which has created the extraordinary society we enjoy today. But, in the current environment, there is increased competition from committed and energetic workforces in other countries…places like China, Brazil and India. Jobs have always gravitated to the most capable workforce. In that regard, American workers have been and are still formidable, but others are catching up…taking jobs…creating pressure on our middle.
To win this battle, we need to differentiate our workforce by out-skilling the competition. Enabling Americans in this conflict is a job for all of us…business, education and government. It requires focus, effort and commitment.
Our schools must become more effective in making the time and the money invested more worthwhile. Furthermore, whether we want to recognize it or not, STEM-related technical education and technical careers have a heck of a PR problem. Too often those who enroll in technical education and pursue associated careers are seen to have settled for the consolation prizes of our society. In effect, we have, in America, lost the respect for the dignity of work. Our young pass on technical careers seeking lives in other disciplines, often resulting in a mountain of debt and disappointing prospects.
The erosion of respect has not only threatened the middle class, it’s created a significant skills gap. The National Association of Manufacturers says 600,000 jobs go unfilled because employers can’t find qualified workers. This shortfall exists largely because those entering the workforce today don’t see technical careers and their associated STEM competencies as something to aspire to or that can provide a good living.
Driven by innovation, technology and human capital, the STEM partnership between Snap-on and Gateway Technical College in Kenosha is a national model for educators, community leaders and employers. This partnership is both a comprehensive and strategic relationship with national scope and a shared belief in the importance of career and technical education and the expansion of STEM learning. The National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) was formed as a result of the collaboration and Gateway began training and certifying high school, community and technical college instructors in diagnostics throughout the nation. It has quickly expanded to include other companies and many certifications that cut across industries. The number of schools and students continues to grow exponentially. Today:
- More than 250 active high schools and colleges are delivering one or more of the now 86 stackable, portable, and industry-endorsed NC3 certifications.
- Over 1,000 high school, community and technical instructors have been NC3 certified, along with almost 33,000 certified students.
First, business and education must work collaboratively to ensure curricula match what’s needed in the workplace. Companies can provide apprenticeships and internships, but it’s also essential that school coursework mirrors what is required in industry. According to NAM members, the number one factor in locating a plant is the presence of a skilled workforce. But without matching education to the capabilities needed, a manufacturing renaissance and the accompanying expansion of opportunity cannot occur. We can all help to ensure schools, particularly community colleges, are a more certain path to a great job.
The second solution is more difficult. We have to fix the PR problem. We have to broadly recognize the essential nature of an enabled middle. We must characterize STEM-related technical careers as what they have always been – the building blocks of American prosperity. We need to enlist our young people in technical careers as a national calling…capturing their enthusiasm as soldiers in continuing American preeminence.
We have to restore the image of the American Dream as something attainable through a technical career…an endeavor worthy of dedication and energy, deserving of pride and dignity and essential to the American future. We must banish the impression that these jobs are consolation prizes.
We all need to encourage and to celebrate the dignity of work. We have to demand that our leaders do so as well. You can’t change attitudes without leadership, and champions from the local, state and national levels are critical. We must all endorse and embrace technical education as the top national priority…and act like we believe it.
STEM and technical educators do make an extraordinary difference. They enable the American workforce, and their success or failure will decide the future of the middle class and our entire Country. In this effort, some say the American workforce is a question. But, I say the American workforce is the answer, and schools, particularly community colleges, are the key to unlocking that power.