catfood said...I guess he got me going.
I'm a bit torn on this point, MB. I believe that students need skills that will get them jobs. But I'm also a liberal arts snob, and I believe that everyone needs general, primary knowledge of the world--including arts, sciences, and social sciences. So when someone says we need a better workforce coming out of our public schools, part of me goes eeeewwww... why don't we aim for a better/smarter populace and let the jobs take care of themselves?
I'm not sure that's been tried.
I am posting my response.
My dear catfood,
We need both; the liberal arts and career/technical training. We can't neglect one for the other. There is no one-size-fits-all education style. The college prep track just doesn't work for everybody. It is presumptuous to assume everyone should want or need that type of education.
Who is going to build, maintain, and make all your stuff unless we train people to do it?
Oh...that's right...the Chinese.
Friday afternoon I listened to economic futurist and author Watts Wacker speak at Tri-C Corporate College. He cautioned us (Americans) to wake up and pay attention to China. The Chinese have certainly been paying attention to us, and they have learned a lot. China learned how to make stuff.
First they made it cheap, then they made it well, and now they are investing in automation for manufacturing and training workers to use it. They are taking our jobs. They are eating our lunches. (And by the way, today 400 million Chinese speak English.)
The jobs here aren't taking care of themselves.
The manufacturing industry in the United States is desperate for skilled workers. Thousands of high tech manufacturing jobs in Ohio are going unfilled. Non-automated factories are closing their doors because they can't compete globally, and they won't invest in the new technology because they can't find the people to run it. Young people aren't encouraged to go into manufacturing.
Training programs have few students.
The drop-out rate in our district is about 50%, somewhat improved from the 65% of two years ago, and the unthinkable 75% a few years before that. Although school administrators rejoice at the increased numbers of graduates, very little attention is paid to what happened to those who never finished high school.
50,000 families in Cleveland are headed by dropouts. We cannot attract companies to this city because such a large percentage of our workforce is uneducated and unskilled.
Cleveland's economy was built on manufacturing. It was the industrialists who built the universities as well as the arts and cultural institutions in this city.
We still have the infrastructure.
We can easily revitalize the manufacturing industry here by providing skilled workers trained in automation and robotics. With a skilled manufacturing workforce, existing companies will be able to invest in technology, increase production, and compete with offshore manufacturers.
A skilled workforce will also enable the city to lure big manufacturers here without tax abatements.
Today's manufacturing jobs are high paying. Higher paying jobs will allow Clevelanders to support the arts, send their children to college, play (not work) in casinos, and not have to shop at Wal-Mart.
(And maybe take a course in Chinese.)