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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