5 September 2011
Global American Series
This Labor Day America faces a unique paradox. At a time of nearly 14 million unemployed, there are 3 million high tech, high paying jobs that remain unfilled. Why? If those jobs were filled our 9.1% unemployment rate would drop to 6.1% - 3 percentage points!
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America has 3 million jobs open and vacant. These are not minimum wage jobs; they are high tech jobs in manufacturing – jobs that pay over $60,000/year. What’s the problem? What’s the solution?
The problem is that American workers don’t have the skills to fill them! So, why aren’t we training people for these high paying jobs?
Two reasons. One, companies are afraid to train workers who then take a competing job with another company, so the company doesn’t get back its costs.
The second problem is that the companies who are willing to train are rejecting over 90% of the applicants because they don’t have sufficient education skills to be trained! Only 1 out of 10 applicants are good enough to move to the next step. If Americans can’t fill these jobs, then the work will go overseas or to foreigners who do have the needed skills (and they do).
This means that our educational system is failing to produce people with sufficient math and reading skills. In the past decade America’s education system has gone from No. 1 to No. 9 in the world. Three countries tied for No. 1: Finland, Japan and S. Korea. U.S. students finished 15th in reading, 19th in math and 14th in science.
Keep this in mind as the President and GOP present their jobs plans. If the “solution” is more “tax cuts” or “cutting regulations,” then how would those actions help fill our skill gap in a global, space-age economy? Corporations are already sitting on $2.5 trillion in profits. Tax cuts won’t train people or upgrade our math and reading skills.
Solution: Developing the American high-skills training and boosting our education to meet the needs of a high tech 21st century economy is the only solution. We have too many people with a high school education (if that) who can’t compete beyond a minimum wage job. We are producing too many college graduates with degrees that have no practical benefit – like art history majors. We are not producing enough people with skills like nurse practitioners that have vacancies.
Today, more than ever, a world-class education is a prerequisite for success. America was once the best educated nation in the world. A generation ago, we led all nations in college completion, but today, 10 countries have passed us.
Let’s see whether the coming President and Congress proposed solutions to our jobs crisis addresses this fundamental skills gap problem. It’s one thing to address the needs of 14 million unemployed. But when we can’t fill existing jobs because of a knowledge and skills gap, the problem is going to take government action working with private industry – not more infighting in Washington DC.
If you agree, pass this on to your friends and Congress reps. This is easily fixed if we have a Congress willing to do so!
Global American Series
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