Posted by: Matthew Molinari | March 16, 2012

America’s Future of Education

The Harvard Business Review had an interesting article in its latest issue about restoring competitiveness to America. I think it touched on two separate issues that may have contradicting results for the future of the American workforce. On the one hand, we have a growing gap in the education of our children which is leaving us further and further behind other countries. But on the flip side, we are also producing less per person as our manufacturing jobs are shipped overseas.

    The education standards in America have been slipping over the past 50 years as is evidenced by our lower test scores compared to the rest of the emerging world. I do think that the blanket reference to “test scores” may not be the fairest comparison due to varying test types. However, regardless of the comparison to other countries, one thing is clear: lower scores mean a less qualified workforce.

At the same time scores are dropping, the number of jobs requiring a college degree is steadily increasing and is expected to reach 45%  by 2018. So as education standards are declining the need for better education is increasing. The question is how do we as a country start to close that gap? I think the problem is, no one has an answer for that.

I think the other issue that may stem from this problem is the continued loss of manufacturing jobs. As we see the jobs requiring a college degree grow, we may also see the push for students to go into manufacturing fields decrease even further. If we truly want to bring manufacturing jobs back to America, we can’t continue to promote college as the only answer.

We should also start looking to push kids towards any type of higher education. Some suggest as many as 50% of companies can’t fill a position due to being unable to find qualified workers. At a time when unemployment is as high as it is, we should not have open positions staying that way as a result of underqualified applicants.

We need to start balancing our need for higher education with our need to create sustainable manufacturing jobs and qualified entrants into the job market.

Feel free to leave a comment.

 

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