Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States
The U.S. economy has shed more than eight million jobs since 2008, and has created only two million new jobs in that same period of time, resulting in not only a high number of unemployed people, but also a high number of job vacancies. A recent report by The Hamilton Project attributes this contradictory statistic to the nation’s schools doing a poor job of graduating students who are career-ready. With a lack of qualified applicants, employers are settling for the cheapest employees rather than the most qualified employees, or worse, leaving jobs vacant all together. Or, as in the case of Apple and other great companies, moving the jobs to China where the labor force is ready, willing, and able to do the work.
In order to provide students with skills necessary to obtain decent jobs that pay a middle class wage, the author argues that students need career counseling in high school that does not simply herd students toward bachelor’s degrees, but directs them to career certificates or associate’s degrees, as well. College dropout rates could be lessened if students were directed toward “key economic sectors” – career fields with a high number of job vacancies that can provide high compensation for highly qualified applicants.
As a solution, the report proposes the federal government set up a grant program in which states would apply for money through a process like the Race to the Top competition. Selected states would identify already established programs that partner with employers to train underemployed groups, and help improve the efficiency of these programs. The report does not explain what happens to the grant if the “key economic sectors” change.
According to a news release by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Ohio’s unemployment rate for December 2011 was 8.1 percent. And if Ohioans are looking for tips on where future jobs lie, ODJFS says the three occupations with the highest projected growth rate in Ohio are Home Health Aides (47.9 percent), Personal & Home Care Aides (44.6 percent), and Network Systems & Data Communication Analysts (43.2 percent).
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