Thursday, September 27, 2007

Gloomy Forecast for IT Work Force

Gloomy Forecast for IT Work Force:

"WASHINGTON—The topic was education and the talk was not optimistic at the Institute for a Competitive Workforce's Sept. 25 workshop. A part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ICW drew several hundred participants to its event, held with the goal of promoting effective and sustainable business and education/work force partnerships.

'Our continued leadership is not inevitable and may not be sustainable,' Fred Tipson, Microsoft's senior policy counsel, said in an afternoon panel discussion focused on upgrading the current and future work force's digital literacy and math and science skills. 'The question is whether
our work force or some other country's will be beneficiaries of new technology.'"

Judy Moog, national program director of the Verizon Foundation, gave the panel participants little reason to question Tipson or Whaley's statements. According to Moog, 70 percent of the nation's eighth graders are below sufficient levels in reading skills and "might well never catch up."

Moog also pointed out that in terms of "quality" of high school graduates, America has fallen to 19th out of 26 nations surveyed. Moreover, she said, nearly half the U.S. adult population—some 93 million people—have very poor or marginal literacy skills.

"Literacy is the price of admission for competitiveness," she said. "People need to access a torrent of information over a vast array of devices. America isn't succeeding fast enough."

Tipson said Microsoft breaks down the issue into three phases: digital literacy, in which a person learns basic skills, digital fluency, meaning the skills are applied, and digital mastery, in which the first two steps are translated into advanced skills.

"We have a [digital] mastery gap, which is why we keep going outside the country to hire," he said. Microsoft is one of largest users of H-1B visas, a specialized-occupation temporary worker visa.

As for the future, only panelist Robert Leber of Northrop Grumman seemed optimistic, and then only if the business community gets behind efforts to support schools and training programs that emphasize digital literacy, math and science skills.

Business Traces Work Force Gaps to Education

"The future is not young people, it's keeping the business community involved," Leber said. "Young people need a global view of what's coming, not a xenophobic view about what's happening in other countries."

An education crisis looms, and if it is not addressed promptly and effectively it could undermine the prosperity of future generations of Americans.

This was the message from the U.S. Chamber's ICW (Institute for a Competitive Workforce) at its annual Education and Workforce Summit, Sept. 24 - 26 in Washington, D.C.

The event was part of the group's national effort to promote effective and sustainable business and education/work force partnerships. Now, more than ever, speakers said, the future of business in the United States depends on its educational and work force systems' ability to adapt to changes in technology, demographics, globalization and other forces affecting society and economy.

To create and sustain regional economic development, communities has to bridge gaps between education, training and employment, but research indicates that the United States is struggling to do so.

"For the last part of the 20th century, the U.S. has had the most highly educated work force in the world," said Martha Lamkin, president of the Lumina Foundation for Education, a private foundation based in Indianapolis. "This is evident today in the 55 to 65 age range. But this picture is less optimistic for our younger adults, as other countries are exceeding us in two and four-year education completion."

Notice that no one except, maybe, Microsoft is putting any real resources towards solutions. What we have instead is the moral equivalent of telling the suicidally depressed to just snap out of it.

The real education crisis in America is that we don't really value education. We only value its supposed end results.

A couple of millenia ago a guy from Nazareth said that where a man's treasure was his heart would be also. We don't treasure public schools or the teachers who work in them. We certainly don't treasure the children who attend them.

If you want to know what we really treasure, examine what we spend our money and time on.

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2188813,00.asp?kc=EWKNLNAV092707STR4

http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,2188796,00.asp

con·cept: Gloomy Forecast for IT Work Force