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It comes back to math and science June 27, 2006

Posted by Tom in Economic Development, Education, Technology, Workforce.
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1983’s landmark “A Nation at Risk” paper sounded the alarm for American education. Specifically, it showed how America was slipping in its performance in math and science education – and how that drop-off could affect our economic health.

The new University of Alabama Chancellor, Malcom Portera, raises the same topic – but this time through the lens of the alignment of workforce and economic development:

[Portera] said Americans must focus on math and science in school and communities must encourage their youngsters to take interest in those fields if the U.S. and the South is to compete with foreign countries in the future economy.

“I have always felt that the key for us in Mississippi and Alabama is to try and take the talent that exists on the campuses of the universities, working hand-in-glove with the state and local economic development organizations, and help restructure and build our economies,” Portera said.

The Deep South has been reasonably successful luring manufacturing facilities to their states – especially the newer foreign automotive plants. If Portera has his way, you could see a lot more than assembly-driven manufacturing going south.

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Comments»

1. Brian G. Hartz - June 27, 2006

It’s arguable that the reason why many manufacturing operations are going south has so far had more to do with costs – particularly related to a less unionized atmosphere – than with any active effort to nurture talent.

2. Tom - June 27, 2006

Good point.

I wasn’t trying to argue that manufacturers were going south for the skilled workforce (not that they are or aren’t, that’s irrelevant in this discussion). I was more focussing on the fact that the Deep South HAS been growing, and that this growth could be augmented by a concerted alignment of workforce (training & education) and economic development resources.

Do you (or any other readers) think that this approach will meaningfully change the economic prospects for the better in the South?  Or is it good enough to have a cheap workforce and cheap tax structure?

Thanks for stopping by the site!


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