This Week's Herman Trend Alert

in Normal 2.0


  The Herman Trend Alert

March 24, 1999

The Case of the Unprepared Employees

283 days until January 1, 2000

Employers are fed up with hiring applicants who are not equipped to do the job for which they were employed. Technology and specialized training aside, a shocking proportion of employees lack sufficient strength and depth in basic skills. Their capacity to read, understand, calculate, communicate—in writing and orally, and solve problems is frustratingly below what employers need . . . and expect.

Where's the problem? The students? The schools? The teachers? The public? All of the above. As the need for greater knowledge and proficiency has increased, the educational levels have dropped. School administrators have sought to provide a wide range of subjects to students, rather than requiring sufficient depth in any of the areas of concentration.

Where's the breaking point? What will trigger a change in our educational systems?

Employers. Plain and simple, employers will begin demanding higher levels of performance from the schools that are expected to produce high school and college graduates who can get the job done. Unfortunately, the change will not come overnight. It will take time . . . too much time.

The upgrading process will have to be accelerated. Students and parents will join the campaign to raise standards and performance in our public schools. Some parents will resist the effort—protecting their precious child(ren) from all that extra work. Employers will push the process by requiring school transcripts of recent graduates. It works. Companies like Eastman have influenced curricula and enrollment in upper-level science and math classes, while reducing the failure rate of their entry level employees.

Through the efforts of groups like the National Alliance of Business, employers will drive the educational system to move in two significant directions: raising performance in the schools and providing remedial education for people already in the workforce.

Thousands of people who are already employed are in serious need of education for the basics—reading, writing, math, and problem-solving. Employers can't handle the load—not alone. Even all the in-house and contract trainers can't do it all. Schools will play an expanded role in the future. And they're not ready.

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