Group intends to create demand for improved primary and secondary education
We’ve mentioned a number of times, on ManufactureThis, workforce skills are a major factor in whether, and when, companies reshore jobs. (See our articles on Education Week, skyrocketing student enrollment, technology-heavy production, ironic dilemma, and Connecticut community colleges for reference.) In his New York Times column this week, Thomas Friedman says it will be hard to get people trained for manufacturing work later in life, when the earlier education systems in the United States are doing poorly.
Friedman suggests that public knowledge could be partially to blame. Parents don’t understand that their child’s school may be performing at just “average” compared to the rest of the world. And when company CEOs want to find above-average workers, they may not always find them in the United States.
Friedman highlights a project underway by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (O.E.C.D). Ideally, the group would like to provide parents with a way to compare their child’s school to other schools around the world. The hope, Friedman explains, follows a basic principle of economics -- when parents see how poorly the schools perform on an international level, they will demand better and the public school systems will be left with little choice but to supply it.
Friedman quotes Andreas Schleicher, who heads the team at O.E.C.D.:
'If parents do not know, they will not demand, as consumers, a high quality of educational service. They will just say the school my kids are going to is as good as the school I went to.' If this comparison platform can be built at this micro scale, he says, it could 'lead to empowerment at the really decisive level' of parents, principals and teachers demanding something better.
'This is not about threatening schools,' he adds. It is about giving each of them 'the levers to effect change' and a window into the pace of change that is possible when every stakeholder in a school has the data and can say: Look at those who have made dramatic improvements around the world. Why can’t we?
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has repeatedly called for a revitalized U.S. workforce by:
- Refocusing on technical and vocational education, providing a seamless program that bridges high school and post-secondary education to produce the next generation of highly skilled manufacturing workers
- Rewarding companies that are investing in effective skills and training programs for their workers
Read more here.
Photo from flickr user Caitlyn Willows, used following Creative Commons guidelines.
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