Failing Schools Create Both an Economic Security and Competitiveness Risk
According to the Associated Press, the economic security and prosperity of the United States is at risk if America’s schools do not improve according to a recent report by a Federal task force lead by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The report, released last month, also included Joel Cline, the former Chancellor of the New York City School System. The report indicates that far too many schools in the US are inadequately preparing their students for graduation let alone confident participation in the growingly complex and technical society. “The dominant power of the 21st century will depend upon human capital”. The report went on to state “The failure to produce human capital will undermine American security”.
The task force reported that there is already a significant shortage of candidates for US intelligence agencies due to the shortfall in the number of foreign language speakers. Worse, there is a shortage of scientists and engineers going into fields such as defense and aerospace and this problem will be exacerbated as baby boomers retire.
Failure to Qualify for the Military
According to the panel, 75% of young adults in the country today do not qualify for military service because they have criminal records, are physically unfit, or have inadequate levels of education to serve in the military.
Worse, according to the most recent statistics, 1 in 4 students fail to graduate from high school within four years in the United States. A basic high school diploma or GED is required to serve in the military.
The report went on to say that 30% of high school graduates who apply for the military fail to qualify on basic math, science and English aptitude tests. The task force report also found that many Americans are so efficient in global awareness but they do not understand who are America’s allies and can distinguish those countries from those who are America’s adversaries.
The Problem Is Already Here
The report stated that not only is a large portion of the population unprepared to meet the basic requirements for military service, but the educational divide is so distinct that it threatens the cohesion of the country and the ability of the US to continue to serve as a global leader. A few bright spots were noted such as significant efforts in some large cities to improve curriculum such as adoption of “common core” standards for reading, math and science in many states. The report also complimented the Obama administration for its “race to the top competition” wherein states compete for additional Federal money in exchange for meaningful teacher evaluations.
Condoleezza Rice commented in the report that the rest of the world is passing us by with a much greater focus on education and much higher levels of production of top level math, science and engineering graduates.
In California, employers have consistently reported over the last five years a steady decline in the quality of candidates applying for positions. One of the most underrated factors which accounts for the high unemployment we see in the United States now is a mismatch between job skills required and those which can be delivered by candidates. Many open positions go unfilled for months due to the lack of talent. One answer employers are turning to is a much greater focus on internal training as well as increased levels of pre-start date testing. It is not reasonable to assume that every candidate can confidently operate even basic software programs let alone think critically. It behooves the sharp employer to “trust but verify”. Once hired, employers are increasingly finding it is their obligation to develop training curriculum to bring competencies to a competitive level.
Over the past several years, SharedHR has been instrumental in establishing both pre-hire criteria as well as employee development programs for small to mid-sized businesses.