Friday, March 17, 2017


Back in the 1950s, I remembered that Aunt Eva and Aunt Sarah talked about college in the context of “they can’t take that away from you.” As both sets of grandparents came from Russia and World War II completed, their statement made complete sense. It was expected that I attend the University and so I did even though I did not, at that time, have a clear sense of a career choice. Later on I read that college graduates earned, over a life time, more than high school graduates. That’s still generally true today. Dave, one of my high school buddies, took a white-collar job at General Motors. He married, reared a family, purchased a house and, now comfortably retired in Florida. The big three automobile companies were doing well, and so did he. Attending college, at that time, was reasonable as well. In fact, in the 1950s, employment was booming, the standard of living was comfortable, so it didn’t matter if one attended college or not. Today, things have changed dramatically for employment opportunities for high school graduates. It’s clear that many do not have skills to compete in this information driven economy. On the other hand, attending the University has become extremely expensive and many students and their families have gone into massive school debt. A recent article in the February 5, 2017 edition of the New York Times addressed the issue confronting today’s high school graduates. For example, there was a job fair, in North Carolina. 10,000 people, or so showed up for 800 job positions. Siemens Energy opened a gas turbine production plant there and administered a reading, writing and math screening test geared for a ninth grade level of education for their job openings. Unfortunately fewer than 15% of those job applicants were able to pass their test. For this employer as well as John Deere, a high school diploma was no longer sufficient for these entry level jobs. These employers relied heavily on computers. These factory floor workers were expected to have advanced math comprehension skills with ability to solve problems when confronted. A typical high school diploma was insufficient for their jobs. Solution, these two companies became partners with the local community college and set up an appropriate curriculum. They also offered internships that allowed the students to be employed with these companies. To Be Continued

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