Sometimes an Economic Recovery Advisory Board has got interesting things to say. In October, they talked about what President Obama called “one of our most important economic issues of our time: the skills and education of our workforce, because every business leader in this room knows that the single most important predictor of America’s success in the 21st century is how well our workers can compete with workers all around the world.”
“All of our education institutions — from our pre-schools to our universities — have a critical role to play here,” the President said, but especially vocational and technical colleges “serve as a pool of talent from which businesses can draw trained, skilled workers. Unfortunately, they receive far less funding than four-year colleges and universities. Not only is that not right — I think it’s not smart, not at a time when so many other nations are trying to out-educate us today so they can out-compete us tomorrow.
We need to be doing more, not less, to equip our workers with the skills and training they need in the 21st century. It’s an economic imperative.”
We need to make “an unprecedented investment in our community colleges — upgrading them, modernizing them, and challenging these schools to pursue innovative, research-oriented approaches to educating.”
A key strategy according to the Board is developing new ways for businesses and educational institutions to connect, work together and share knowledge about what practices work best. Specialists identified public-private partnerships as one of the most effective ways that we can improve the skills and credentials of workers and students.
Some of the best quotes from the 21-page meeting minutes:
•Every state should have at least one strong partnership between a growing industry and a community college.
•Schools and employers should create programs that match curricula in the classroom with the needs of the boardrooms.
•Always maintain commitment to education, i.e. never cut back on education investments that are directly related to our long-term economic performance. “Now is not the time to sacrifice our competitive edge in the global economy. This country will be stronger if all of our children get a world-class education.”
•Companies must invest their skills, their expertise, their people and dollars to support and create a more high-impact partnership with schools.
•We believe putting the resources into a real public-private partnership for training and development of workers is one of the best investments that we can make in our country.
•Community colleges are usually incredibly flexible to work with companies on designing a two-year curriculum to meet the needs of a high-tech employer who says: ‘I’ve got a thousand folks that I’m willing to hire if they get the right training.’
•Caterpillar dealers have built partnerships with about 12 colleges that have a great curriculum to develop skilled service mechanics to do field service work. And these skills are transferable to other industries. “Now we have four new plants being built in the United States and every one of those cities has community colleges partnering with us on the training that we need for the people coming into those facilities. So I couldn’t be more positive about this program”.
•We need to rebalance our economy in order to succeed globally, because if the United States is going to be a high-wage, high-performance, wealthy economy, the first thing we need to do is invest much more in education and lifelong learning.