Education Week: Worry less about the 'wage gap' and more about the 'skills gap'
While Tucker lauds President Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney for addressing the importance of re-shoring manufacturing jobs, he also expresses concern for would-be workers who may not be equipped with the new skills necessary for these positions.
Tucker believes the focus of the re-shoring debate should be less on the ‘wage gap’ and more on the ‘skills gap’.
This is the key issue. Our competitors, including countries like China that are among our low wage competitors, are doing a better job than we are of educating manufacturing workers to high standards. So, even as the wage gap is closing between their workers and our workers, they are opening a skills gap that favors them, not us. We are rapidly approaching a point at which global firms will choose to manufacture in those countries not because they offer lower-skilled workers but because they offer more highly-skilled workers at comparable wages.
Mr. Romney has yet to tell American voters what he plans to do about the dire state of American education. Mr. Obama is right in thinking that our community colleges have an important role to play in solving these problems, but they will not be able to play that role unless the quality of American high school graduates improves radically. Americans have yet to come to grips with the reality that the average student in Shanghai, a city of 23 million people, greatly outperforms the average student in the United States of America. That is a stunning fact. We are facing a competitor that is offering workers who are better educated and who will work for less than their American counterparts.
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