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Technical training and taxes.

Technical training and taxes

Last fall, Editor-in-Chief Dick Green focused his editorial opinion on the ever-shrinking pool of competent metalworking machinists, technicians, and manufacturing engineers. The root of the problem seems to be our technical education system and its inability to keep up with leading-edge technology. It happens that this is a pet peeve of Jack MacKay, president of Unison Corp, Madison Heights, MI.

MacKay believes that one of the underpinnings of a vigorous skilled work force is placement of modern equipment in the labs of US educational institutions. We agree. Students must have access to such hardware if they are expected to contribute to, or even survive in, an industrial society based on advanced manufacturing technologies. Unfortunately, the cost is usually more than most schools can afford.

Much has been written about the sorry state of technical education in this country. Writing is always the first stage, the stimulus that brings about change. It forces the next step-- a plan. And MacKay has one. Here it is.

"At present, US schools don't significantly contribute to the advancement of manufacturing technology. They aren't at the forefront, rather always a step behind. In most cases, the minor contribution they provide ccurs after industry has sensed a need and has asked for specialized help in specific areas. I think they should be closer to the battle.

"As pointed out in your editorial (September '83, pg 5),' he continues, "the equipment available in most schools does little to advance the students' knowledge of that which is actually used in dustry. In fact, the state of the equipment probably discourages brighter students from studying metalworking practices. If we are to compete with the Japanese and others, individuals entering the work force must do so with a much higher level of knowledge and skill.'

MacKay emphasizes, "Currently, there is little incentive for industry to provide schools with anything except inexpensive, light-duty or used, obsolete machines and equipment. OEMs would like to help more, but it is just too expensive. In a profitable year, present laws allow, at best, a tax savings of only 50 percent of the cost of a gift. This means the manufacturer must shoulder half of the cost. Very few can afford to do so.

"I feel that this predicament can be quickly remedied if the proper incentive is presented to private industry. An increased tax credit on the cost of the machines would open the flood gates, resulting in accessibility of valuable equipment to our young people at very little (if any) cost to the US government.

"Greater tax credits,' he says, "would stimulate manufacturers to supply modern equipment and, equally important, to train school personnel in its proper operation.

Until this happens, our future work force will continue to enter industry's ranks totally ignorant of modern processes and methods, and our competitive position relative to other countries will keep on sliding.

"The tax-credit approach appears to be the most effective and least costly solution. The contributing manufacturer will not enjoy profits for the gifts, but at least he will not incur losses. The resulting advantages will be many for the schools, the students, and the US economy.'

If you are an engineering or manufacturing academic or a metalworking executive, we would like to hear your views on revamping existing tax legislation to make it more attractive to donate leading-edge equipment to our educational institutions. We will bundle your replies into a formal package and submit them to the appropriate federal officials. What's your opinion?
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:credits for equipment donations
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Feb 1, 1984
Previous Article:High-tech expectations.
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