Job Creation Starts With Skills Training

As the unemployment rate shows no sign of ebbing, the irony is that there are thousands of good paying job openings; unfortunately potential job candidates are woefully under trained. The term bandied about is the “skills gap” which refers to employees that lack those skill sets sought after by employers.

For a stark illustration take a look at the relationship between unemployment and education. Among job seekers that lack a high school diploma, the unemployment rate is 14.7 percent.

The unemployment rate for high school graduates but with no college is 9.5 percent. Job seekers with some college or an associate degree are 8.0 percent, while the unemployment rate for college graduates is 4.5 percent.

In a recent comparison of academic performance in 57 countries, students in Finland came out on top overall. Finnish 15-year-olds did the best in science and came in second in math.

Other top-performing countries were: Hong Kong, Canada, Taiwan, Estonia, Japan and South Korea. Students in the United States performed near the middle of the pack. On average 16 other industrialized countries scored above the United States in science, and 23 scored above the United States in math.

In a major report in February, Harvard University highlighted what it called the “forgotten half” of young adults who are unprepared to enter the work force. Some drop out of high school. Some who finish can’t afford college. And some who can afford college find that what they’ve learned in college or vocational programs doesn’t match employers’ demands.

The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce estimates there will be 47 million job openings in the decade ending in 2018. Nearly half will require only an associate’s degree.

What this says is that the United States has missed the boat on job creation.

Good jobs require good workers. Instead of throwing money after ill-advised stimulus programs, it’s time to invest in our workforce. It’s time to give kids the foundation in math and science that will prepare them for the changing needs of the workforce, and think again about improving our vocational schools. .

Our founding fathers recognized the importance of vocational education, and started apprenticeship agreements that set specific requirements for masters to teach apprentices academic as well as vocational skills.

Early in the twentieth century, vocational education was a prominent topic of discussion among American educators as schools struggled to meet the labor force needs consistent with the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economic base. In his 1907 address to Congress, President Theodore Roosevelt urged major school reform that would provide industrial education in urban centers and agriculture education in rural areas.

It’s time to revisit this idea. If we don’t invest in our work force, even if jobs are created, there won’t be anyone to fill them. We need people in Washington who can see the big picture and put America back to work.

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One Response to “Job Creation Starts With Skills Training”
  1. Lourdes Leon says:

    Education and training principles starts at home. Public education is a continuation of our own long as parents are too busy to engrave the sanctity of a learning place; we will continue to fall behind in education. As parents we need to guide our children, NOT sit and wait for a magnet program, charter school, technical, vocational, private religious school or the government take the responsibility of making professionals! It starts at home with basics!
    While vocational-technical schools serve a specific purpose, an overall more complete curriculum may open our minds to pursue higher frontiers. If I send my teenager to a air conditioning tech school I may be cutting his winds to pursue philosophy, music, literature, biology ….etc…etc… Why frame their future in a technical school?
    As a business owner in South Florida I struggle with the minimalistic approach surrounding my community and industry. We have processes, we reimburse tuition for higher learning, we set out incentive programs for self improvement and yet less that 30% of our small company staff takes advantage. At times it is hard not to feel surrounded by minimalist-mediocre people! As long as we have someone else to blame….. Why put more effort
    In the meantime….. where did we missed the boat?

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