In May of 2004 an employer with 350 operators visited the school. He gathered all the students around him and asked which one of them would want to start work right when they graduated. All raised their hands. He then asked which ones would not mind starting out digging with a hand shovel until an opening occurred. One man raised his hand. The employer hired that student right on the spot, then went on to explain to the class that this student would start out on a Caterpillar 631 scraper ( an 800K piece of equipment) because he showed his desire to work. The other students were stunned by what just happened. I told them that employers are looking for heart first, skill second. It was a defining moment for most of them. 90% of those students went on and found employment in the first 15 days of graduation.
On March 11 I was attending the Las Vegas Nevada Youth Conference, where I had the privilege of hearing LaVell Edwards speak. LaVell was the head coach of BYU football from 1972 to 2000. Prior to Edwards’ final game, the football stadium at Brigham Young University was renamed LaVell Edwards Stadium in his honor. At the time of his retirement, he ranked sixth in all-time victories, and in 2003 received the Amos Alonzo Stagg Award, presented by the American Football Coaches Association.
LaVell’s basic message at the conference was this: You are what you think you are. The best football players are not the fastest, strongest, smartest. They’re the ones with heart. Heart can’t be taught. Believe and you can do. Life happens. 10% of it is what happens to you; the other 90% is how you react to it.
Most NAHETS graduates never thought they could operate heavy equipment. The 5% of our student body made up of women never believed they could operate large equipment. Employers want employees with heart, not the maverick operator. Within 90 days of graduation our students have mastered the level of skill of more experienced operators. Which makes them the exceptional candidate to potential employers: operators with heart and skill.