The skills gap — the lack of workers qualified to fill open high-skilled jobs – will only continue to widen and threaten the future of our nation if policymakers, industries and education leaders do not address the issue of equipping students (of all ages) with the skills demanded by the economy, according to a recent New York Times op-ed.
“We’re in the midst of a perfect storm: a Great Recession that has caused a sharp increase in unemployment and a Great Inflection — a merger of the information technology revolution and globalization that is simultaneously wiping out many decent-wage, middle-skilled jobs, which were the foundation of our middle class, and replacing them with decent-wage, high-skilled jobs. Every decent-paying job today takes more skill and more education, but too many Americans aren’t ready,” says Thomas L. Friedman, author of the op-ed.
The nation has three million open jobs around the country but an 8 percent unemployment rate, he notes.
Friedman calls for reform with a focus on assisting community colleges and universities to keep pace with the changes in the economy so courses reflect industry demands and students are prepared for the jobs of today and the future. Further, he suggests a type of Race to the Top initiative to incentivize businesses to embed workers in universities and universities to embed professors inside businesses “so we get a much better match between schooling and the job markets.”
Friedman goes on to close his op-ed with insight from Eduardo Padrón, the president of Miami Dade College: “The skill shortage is real… The big issue in America is not the fiscal deficit, but the deficit in understanding about education and the role it plays in the knowledge economy.”
Erin Uy, Communications & Marketing Manager