Skills and Jobs

Also worth a read in this Sunday’s The New York Times is Thomas Friedman’s article, “If You’ve Got the Skills, She’s Got the Job.” Two main takeaways for me are that first, jobs today require a higher level of analytical competency than in the past. Welding is the example of a job that in the past sufficed with apprenticeship training, but now requires mastery of geometry, metallurgy, and other scientific fields.

The second take-away is the community colleges are leading the effort here. Friedman quotes Miami-Dade’s Eduardo Padrón:

‘The skill shortage is real. Years ago, we started working with over 100 companies to meet their needs. Every program that we offer has an industry advisory committee that helps us with curriculum, mentorship, internships and scholarships.  … Spanish-speaking immigrants used to be able to come here and get a decent job doing repetitive tasks in an office or factory and earn enough to buy a home and car and put their kids through school and enjoy middle-class status. That is no longer possible.  … 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.’

This sounds a lot like College to Careers. Yet a visit to Miami-Dade’s website shows that they have firmly embraced the dual mission of liberal arts and career education, evidenced by Philosophy sitting right above Phlebotomy Technician on their list of program offerings.  Their list does not look all that different from HWC’s own Program Finder.

My liberal arts post will need to wait even longer as I incorporate this additional data and strip out the irony.

Published by Don Laackman

Leader with higher education, non-profit and private-sector consulting experience.

3 thoughts on “Skills and Jobs

  1. I’m sure that in six months things will be better.

    Sorry; couldn’t help myself. I am not yet in an irony free zone.

    I’m also not sure that one CEO’s experience looking for welder’s for her company extrapolates to something that is true for all or even most welding jobs, much less the broad economy.

    Again, I’m no obstructionist, but I do object to the narrow and oft repeated association of a college education’s value with its work prospects. It is one, no doubt, but not the only and it is arguably not even the most important. Saying it over and over again doesn’t make it so, and leaving out information does real damage. Maybe not in every case, but certainly in some.

    Making a profit is one reason to buy and own a home; when it becomes the only reason that gets mention, bad things happen. I see a similar dynamic at play here.

  2. Here’s an article from the AFT’s Educator. The insert on page nine titled “What Message Does College for All Send?” originally appeared as “The Inadvertent Bigotry of Inappropriate Expectations” in Education Week. I prize the education I received, of course, and I post this link/blurb because it may surprise one to find this in a union-sponsored publication. (The mere titles of these articles surprised me.) Community college students in the college vicinity get a mention on page eight.

    http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/fall2010/Rosenbaum.pdf

    Beyond One-Size-Fits-All College Dreams
    Alternative Pathways to Desirable Careers
    By James E. Rosenbaum, Jennifer L. Stephan, and Janet E. Rosenbaum

    The vast majority of high school students plan to attend college—/ / p and believe that a bachelor’s degree all but guarantees them a high-paying job. What many of them don’t know is that those who are not well prepared are not likely to graduate. They also don’t realize that plenty of career-focused certificates and associate’s degrees lead to satisfying careers that pay just as well as, and sometimes better than, careers that require a bachelor’s degree. If detailed information on the broad array of higher education and career options were made available to them, students would have more incentive to work hard in high school and a better chance of achieving their dreams.

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