From the Wall Street Journal.
More than 600,000 jobs in manufacturing went unfilled in 2011 due to a skills shortage, according to a survey conducted by the consultancy Deloitte.
The problem seems soluble: Equip workers with the skills they need to match them with employers who are hiring. That explains the emphasis that policy makers of both parties place on science, technology, engineering and math degrees—it is such a mantra that they’re known by shorthand as STEM degrees.
American manufacturing has become more advanced, we’re told, and requires computer aptitude, intricate problem solving, and greater dexterity with complex tasks. Surely if Americans were getting STEM education, they would have the skills they need to get jobs in our modern, high-tech economy.
But considerable evidence suggests that many employers would be happy just to find job applicants who have the sort of “soft” skills that used to be almost taken for granted. In the Manpower Group’s 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, nearly 20% of employers cited a lack of soft skills as a key reason they couldn’t hire needed employees. “Interpersonal skills and enthusiasm/motivation” were among the most commonly identified soft skills that employers found lacking.
Employers also mention a lack of elementary command of the English language. A survey in April of human-resources professionals conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management and the AARP compared the skills gap between older workers who were nearing retirement and younger workers coming into the labor pool. More than half of the organizations surveyed reported that simple grammar and spelling were the top “basic” skills among older workers that are not readily present among younger workers.
The SHRM/AARP survey also found that “professionalism” or “work ethic” is the top “applied” skill that younger workers lack. This finding is bolstered by the Empire Manufacturing Survey for April, published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It said that manufacturers were finding it harder to find punctual, reliable workers today than in 2007, “an interesting result given that New York State’s unemployment rate was more than 4 percentage points lower in early 2007 than in early 2012.”
Stuart Schneiderman blames the focus on equality and self-esteem over competition and achievement:
The American school system has failed America’s students. It has especially failed to teach the skills required to do the kinds of high tech jobs that are increasingly available.American children are deficient in science, technology, engineering and math, in what are now known as the STEM subjects.It should surprise no one. A pedagogical policy promoting self-esteem over achievement must diminish the best students in order to make the worst students feel good about themselves. The result: a large cohort of undereducated underachievers who are proud of their incompetence.In STEM subjects there are right and wrong answers. When these subjects are taught correctly, you will find that some children are markedly better than others.Children improve because they emulate their betters. They strive to get better because they want to be as good as someone else.If the best students are rewarded other children will want to emulate them. If the best students are demeaned no one will want to emulate them.If you refuse to call on them in class, if you refuse to hold them up as exemplary, if you turn math exercises into storytelling and feeling sharing you are going to drag everyone down.If you say that no one is better than anyone else, you are saying that no child should strive for greater achievements.
Stuart didn’t say it, so I will. It’s important to be careful about handing your children off to any school, especially the feminized public school system. The public school system from administration to the classroom is not welcoming to values like competition and individual achievement – which are more often (but not exclusively) associated with men. Unfortunately, there just aren’t many men in public school classrooms. Public schools favor security and equality of outcomes. These goals are best achieved by growing government to minimize individual achievement and to maximize the “safety net”, so that individual striving doesn’t matter. Another goal of the public school system is to increase the amount of money they are paid. They want higher taxes and more government spending, so that they are paid more. Their job is not to get your children skills so they can be independent of government. They want more government. They want more security. They want less personal responsibility. They want less individual achievement.
I think that teachers should have to work in a field related to what they want to teach in for at least 5 years before being admitted to teacher’s college. That requirement alone would improve education drastically.