Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Skilled Labor is as Important as STEM Classes

Career and Technical Education (CTE) is the key to solving the unemployment problem for millions of workers - if only schools and the government would respond.  Even as Marc Tucker tells us of the brilliance of Singapore's educating of skilled labor and news reports abound with millions of mechanical jobs going unfilled, the country still faces a serious problem in educating its people for a changing world.  Most recently, New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman has picked up the call noting If You've Got the Skills, She's Got the Job.

One key profession touted by Friedman and others is professional welding, which is in high demand, but faces a serious shortage of workers.  Important to remember is welding is not for the uneducated - for in today's age "Welding is a STEM job."  The problem, of course, is the coming lack of skilled workers to take the jobs.  Schools facing budget cuts and a myopic focus on test scores, emphasizing university degrees for all people, are unable to provide the sort of support the country needs to develop skilled labor.

Friedman argues that the USA needs a new Race-to-the-Top with new stimulus spending to revamp the education system that cannot provide the training workers need.  Whereas, companies used to train their own workers in less skilled jobs fifty years ago, there are few corporations or small businesses that can afford to foot the bill.  Thus, we need a business-government partnership to fund the training for the jobs that are waiting.

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