Blog: The Skilled Labor Workforce and the American Prison System

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Here’s to the crazy ones, the innovators — Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Titan Gilroy. Who is Titan Gilroy? He is the combination of Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue and Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs. He’s an in-your-face change agent with a TV show on MavTV called Titan American Built, who wants to solve the skilled trades gap, specifically in the computer numeric controlled (CNC) space, and reinvigorate the skilled labor workforce. He is willing to start at the lowest level of the American workforce, the prison system, and he is willing to teach the inmates at no cost.

Titan, a former boxer and prison inmate himself, plans to build an advanced CNC training facility inside of San Quentin Prison in California. He is going to teach inmates chosen using his own vetting and selection process, create his own curriculum, and assign the inmates projects designed to make them CNC experts.

Data show that over 70 percent of all inmates return to prison within 5 years of being paroled. Once they get out of prison, they have very few marketable skills plus a felony record, which further diminishes their likelihood of securing gainful employment. No job equals zero income, which equals hopelessness and a return to a life of crime.

This is a tipping point opportunity for someone like Titan, who has had his CNC machine shop TITAN America MFG in Rocklin, Calif., since 2005. He has seen firsthand the shortage of workers in the skilled trade. He is betting that because of the lack of skilled CNC machinists, employers very well could choose to work with nonviolent felons who have acquired the necessary skills in Titan’s training program. By providing inmates marketable skills, Titan believes he is giving them the ability to acquire a good job and stay out of prison.

His ultimate goal is twofold: Online training and training facilities for Americans currently in the prison system.

First, he wants to have all instructional documents, programs, projects, prints, videos, and bonus footage put online to create the biggest CNC teaching platform ever developed. He pledges that all projects and instructional content will be available for download at no cost.

His belief is that the manufacturing community needs to give all college teachers, students, and future machinists free online training. He also believes that existing CNC shops need to be taught advanced machining techniques and given access to new tools and processes, which will allow the companies to better compete in a global economy. To achieve this goal, he will be going to CNC shops around the nation, showing their staffs the latest in CNC machine technology and teaching them new methods to solve difficult problems.

Secondly, he wants to see his CNC training facility in San Quentin reproduced in prisons across America. This platform would allow him to reach hundreds of inmates, impacting both their lives and the lives of their families. Additionally, American taxpayers will save thousands of dollars annually in incarceration costs if inmates are trained and kept gainfully employed.

Of course, to bring the human-interest side of the struggles of the inmates, and to document his programs, Titan will be broadcasting the best of the best of this journey on his TV show. Stay tuned.

Todd Palmer is founder and president of Troy-based Diversified Industrial Staffing and Diversified PEOple LLC and a regular contributor to DBusiness.

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