Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

For over a decade US industry has been markedly concerned about the low quality output of US schools. The problem: there are plenty of job openings, but the key positions are technical. I attended an aerospace conference a couple of summers ago where a major item discussed was the practical impossibility of filling the technical jobs being vacated by retirees and also that were being created by new objectives. Such jobs would maintain a high vacancy rate, even if the output of schools ramped up overnight to an idealized level. Proposed solutions tended toward reductions in inefficiencies and increased applications of intelligence technologies.

This problem with schools’ generally dismal output of technically motivated and qualified youth is not going to be an easy one to solve. But problems like these do get solved, often in surprising ways. Being part of the solution is not a given. Every school that proposes STEM education will not be “good”. As has been the case for decades, time in many classrooms will be somewhat of a waste of your children’s youth. Parents should keep in mind that industry, and universities, will not be fooled by high grades from marginal environments. The need is not for bodies -- the need is for brains. Brains that understand hi-tech for sure, but also brains that understand relatively low tech, brains that can communicate tech, brains that can operate tech, or train tech, or modify tech, or apply tech in an ad hoc way. While the people are chanting “jobs, jobs, jobs”, industry is answering with “tech, tech, tech”.

Accordingly, while setting your directions toward mathematics and science, the refrain that is probably more important for you and your children is: “learn, learn, learn”.