Preparing the Workers of Today for the Jobs of Tomorrow

Rachel Roseberry

Executive Office of the President, Council of Economic Advisers
July 2009

Foreign capital. Trade deficits. High quality education. Inventory
investment. As a question in a game of "which one of these is not like
the other," that one's a cinch. Yet this report from the President's
economic council finds education and economics to be deeply entwined. It
examines how, after the worst recession since the Great Depression,
America can and should prepare its workforce for the future. In
particular, jobs will increasingly require critical thinking abilities,
instead of specific technical skills. But the path to gaining these
skills does not lie solely in the direction of what we now know
as "21st Century" skill-based standards and their ilk, explains the
report. Rather, high quality primary-secondary education must focus on
"strong basic skills," "quality instruction," "high standards,"
"rigorous assessments," and "strong accountability," too. The report
also finds that the education industry is "expected to contribute most
substantially to job growth," as students look to become educators and
administrators; we, too, found
that science and math majors in our home state of Ohio were also
interested in the education field. Though this report devotes the
majority of its pages to post-high school training, the bottom line is
that our economic crisis should be addressed from the bottom up--and the
bottom starts young. It's an important reminder from a new
administration that strong standards, teacher quality, and
accountability reform are not only beneficial to the individual student,
but to the nation as a whole. Read the report here.