Thursday, July 14, 2011

Education Narrative Morphs: No Workers? Really?

Posted for

Sandra in Brevard

For some time, educational reform advocates claimed reform was urgent because the U.S. will not be able to compete in the global economy. I do not see that rational used so much anymore, but I am noticing some new ones. A few weeks ago, I listened to a radio show that focused on new initiatives and partnerships between community colleges and the manufacturing sector. In that discussion, the lack of qualified workers was mentioned. Now, I find this same narrative repeated in a Business Week article here.

"Businesses say the slow pace of education reform is hurting their bottom lines. Intel (INTC), the world’s largest semiconductor maker, is having difficulty filling 2,895 U.S.-based engineering positions, according to an Intel spokeswoman. RightNow Technologies (RNOW), which helps businesses offer online and live-chat customer service, has to burn through about 100 résumés to find one person who has the necessary math, science, and computer training. “We need reform,” says Chief Executive Officer Greg Gianforte. “Without highly educated and motivated individuals, we don’t have a future.”

Workers supporting the Space Program have been laid off in droves, across a large spectrum of skills, including engineers. University students are graduating and finding it difficult to get jobs. There are returning soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq that also represents a pool that have qualified workers to fill these positions. In 2009, Business Week reported that there is no shortage of U.S. engineers in spite of what industry leaders claim. Sorry, if RightNow Technologies has to "burn through" so many resumes, but perhaps their Human Resources Department needs to change approaches. How about the local Workforce Development Office or Hire a Hero Program? Companies must also revisit their internal training programs; those investments have fallen off dramatically. There was a strong customer support employment base before companies began to ship them overseas, which had nothing to do with supply of workers and everything to do with cheap labor costs elsewhere.

Under the current rates of high unemployment, filling current job openings is a rather cynical narrative to advocate for fast-paced education reform.

Find the earlier blog on Boosting Skilled Blue Collar Workers here.


Grumpy Note:

"Businesses are saying the slow pace of education reform is hurting their bottom line."  and  “We need reform,” says Chief Executive Officer Greg Gianforte. “Without highly educated and motivated individuals, we don’t have a future.”

Maybe they should put their money where their mouth is and develop training, apprenticeships and scholarship programs that will  help solve the problems.  It is not the function of public education to provide a product specifically pretrained for employment in a narrow field or for a specific company 

I got out of the hospital a couple days days ago, the last 3 days I was there I was lucky enough to have an exceptional young lady as one of my nurses assistants.  I won't mention her real name here, simply because we do occasionally get some strange visitors and I don't want to risk her safety or security.. So I'll call her Marie.. 

Initially I was taken by the way Marie handled herself and her obvious work ethic.  If she felt pressured she never showed it.  She's 19 years old, but you didn't see her talking on the phone, flirting with guys or any of the other less than desirable "work habits" so often associated with younger workers.  She spoke professionally, had excellent comprehensive and people skills.  Obviously her math skills met or exceeded the job requirements.  She was extremely competent.

She is currently just a class or so short of getting her AA from Brevard County Community College, from there she plans on going for her full Nursing Degree, at nineteen she's in the process of buying a house with her older sisters as partners

Marie is a product of our failed Failed Public Education System, yet she graduated  independent and self sufficient.  More importantly she graduated job ready, in fact so ready that she graduated at seventeen and had to wait to until she was eighteen to put the  Nursing Assistants Ticket, she earned in high school,  to good use.  She was job ready before she was old enough to get the job.  I'm not sure how you can call that a failure.  No she didn't graduate high school ready for a fifty grand job, but she graduated with the skills necessary to earn a living and pay taxes.  She graduated with skills necessary to continue to learn, and eventually earn herself a very good, high paid job..

Back to my opening statement about bsinesses putting their money where their mouth is;  Common sense tells a hospital  or other medical facility that sees the advantage of having job ready High School Grads had to be involved in Marie's success

Before anyone starts, Marie is not the product of a demographically favored class, she black and from all indications came from a familly of hard working people.

From my conversations with her, I saw two factors that have and will play a major role in her success..

Marie mentioned several times how strong willed her mother is.  Her mother wasn't going to put up with lazyness, excuses or any other nonsense from her daughters.  They were going to do the right thing, or she was going to know why.

Last and most important is Marie herself.  Her personal drive, ambition  intellegence and willingness to learn is the single biggest factor in her success, and it always will be.

Regardless of how many different ways education is reformed it can't change the fact in the end, it's up to the individual to want to learn...

1 comment:

  1. Crony capitalists and vulture philanthropists via non-profit, non-public entities with full federal cooperation drive Ed reform, a $500 billion sector, largely on taxpayer's dollars.


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