This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

October 16, 2002

Students Aren't Preparing for Jobs

A serious problem will face both workers and employers as we move through this decade and the next. Knowledge and skills gaps will restrict economic growth, corporate achievement, and career development. The consequences will create problems of historical significance.

In blunt terms, students are not preparing sufficiently for the jobs of tomorrow. The work to be done in the future will require more science, math, and computer skills. Too few students are concentrating in these fields. The computer literacy being acquired by teenagers will serve them well in their personal lives, but will not be sufficient to perform in most work environments.

The workplace of the future (next year, not just 20 years from now) will require high levels of communication skills-written and oral. Many of today's graduates-high school and college--can't write a coherent letter and giving a speech in public is still the #1 fear. Problem solving and decision making skills are seriously lacking, severely limiting the ability of tomorrow's workers to function in a fast-moving, ever-changing world of work. Many of today's students often lack a deep appreciation for history and social systems; their understandings of life around them are disturbingly shallow.

The shortage of competent workers will cause a bidding war for qualified talent. This situation will create all sorts of challenges for employers, as they struggle to build a proficient and productive workforce.

The more dangerous problem is the limitations that today's students create themselves. With insufficient preparation for work and life, their job opportunities will be limited, as will their earning potentials. They will face a challenging world with neither the competence nor the confidence to succeed.

Considerable attention is devoted to the probable plight of employers, but relatively few people demonstrate concern about what will happen to young people who are not adequately prepared. In some countries, educational systems are doing a fine job; others are woefully behind. Third World countries are raising yet another generation that will have enormous difficulty coping with the fundamentals of life.

Think about the students you know. Are they motivated to invigorate their learning?


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