Employers Demand Schools Teach the Skills They Need

June 6, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

With the impending retirement of thousands of baby boomers, big US companies are speaking to schools and urging them to train their next generation of employees.

The Wall Street Journal reports that much of the new guidance is focused on teaching manufacturing and engineering, which use the technical skills and math and science education that employers need.

The National Association of Manufacturers has become a lead figure in the initiative. Partially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the organization is helping to create standardized curricula at community colleges across the nation.

The push focuses on community colleges and vocational schools with certifications in industrial skills from welding to cutting metal and plastics. Emily DeRocco, president of the Manufacturing Institute says while the group isn’t against liberal arts education, they do recognize the need to move beyond “an accumulation of credit hours” and towards “a mastery of skills at the student’s own pace.”

Although employers may see community colleges as the answer to qualified employee solutions and students see them as a more affordable option, there are setbacks.

States serve as the main financial supporter of community colleges, and many are cutting these funds in their budgets.

California for instance, is cutting funds by 5 percent and may have turned away an estimated 140,000 students.

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