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We have a skills gap. When are we going to get the message?

Robert Half  just released the results of its Finance and Accounting
Survey in which 36 percent of the CFO’s who responded said that the
number one reason that new hires don not work out is  poor skills. I
would suspect that if you talked to operational executives you would get
the same feedback. So, if this country is so great why do we get this
type of response to such surveys?

NBC is in the process of
conducting its 2011 rendition of Education Nation and they have pointed
out that despite the presence of  No Child Left Behind, our level of
proficiency of students in school is dismissal as a whole. Granted there
are exceptions across the country. But the results are still there.

As human resource professionals and citizens of this country,we
need to take the time to speak out and tell our elected federal, state
and local officials that it is time that eduction not be the sacrificial
lamb it has turned into. I spent 6 years of my work career in the
classroom and I can tell you from first hand experience we have
forgotten how to challenge our students so that they have the necessary
critical thinking skills to survive in the workplace.When I have an
educational professional tell me that if he taught today’s children the
way he taught when he started teaching 25 years ago he would have to
fail every student, there is something wrong with the picture. I taught
middle school science and I can tell you  that the majority of the
exercises that we gave the students, today would not be tolerated. Never
mind that I had students for the first time in the history of those
schools went on to state and regional science fairs with projects which
were mor complex then building a volcano.

We are confronted with talent without the appropriate skills for
the workplace because we teach to tests. We are confronted with talent
without the appropriate skills for the workplace because Gen X parents
have pushed for placating the students. No homework, it might hinder
their social development. No pushing the envelope on in classroom
activities because it might push against the grain due to narrow views of the world. Never mind that diverse opinions is what makes this country great.

If
we want to regain the status in the world, we claim we want, then we
need to return the educational experience back to the systems of the
1960’s where as students we were challenged everyday to think and
critically explore the issues that were real to the world. We were
challenged by the material not by what test we were going to take at the
end of the year. Other countries in the world are turning out larger
numbers of students who can critically look at the fast changing world
in which we live. Are we going to regain that status or continue with
this failed view that when budgets are tight that we cut programs that
benefit the students over managerial programs and salaries.

We
have the ability to push our agenda to return the US to greatness in the
innovation arena, but not when the first thing we cut is the very
programs that will get us there. Not when we tell students through our
actions that education does not mean anything. Not when we teach to
tests that have no real bearing on the workplace of tomorrow or even
today. So unless you are willing to take up the challenge and change
legislative minds, do not complain that you can not find talent with the
proper workplace skills.

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