This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 21, 2004

Education will be the Competitive Edge

More Americans are complaining that their jobs are going to foreign nationals. Indignantly, they point to American companies giving preference to citizens of other countries---for the work to be performed in the United States or in some other country. The accusations charge that the employers are choosing the foreign alternative to save money, that the foreigners will work more cheaply than Americans.

Our research has uncovered a much different situation. American employers need workers who can perform the jobs that need to be done. The foreign nationals are hired because they have the necessary training and education. Essentially, they can do the work! Human resource professionals bemoan the fact that they must hire foreign workers in preference to American candidates, but they are unable to find Americans who are qualified in their areas.

The answer is a stronger emphasis on career education in the United States. Workforce preparedness must receive more attention and resources from local, state, and national organizations---governmental and non-governmental. Community and technical colleges will accept a great deal of this responsibility, but secondary schools must play a larger role as well.

This reality will hit employers in the very near future, even though they are still in denial that they will be affected by any kind of workforce shortage. When they suddenly need trained and educated workers who are not available, the employers will blame the schools for not producing the quality of graduates that they need. The schools will blame the parents. Everyone will blame the elected local school officials, who will blame the taxpayers for not providing enough funds. Eventually, the finger-pointing will shift to people working together to find solutions they should have been working on for years.

Some communities are waking up. Local leaders are taking action to build bridges between employers and educators---at the community colleges and in the public schools. Those communities that take action now will be in a much better competitive position to attract employers, draw skilled workers, and strengthen their economies. Those communities that do not will find their jobs going elsewhere---domestically and overseas.

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