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New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce report released today December 14, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Workforce.
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The Commission’s 28-page PDF executive summary of their report, Tough Choices or Tough Times, is available here.  I gather that the report is being formally released to the public at 10AM today in Washington, DC.

I haven’t had a chance to read it all in depth, but my review indicates a couple things:

1. The Commission is suggesting that the United States transition itself to a largely creative economy.  That means:

  • Research
  • Development
  • Design
  • Marketing & Sales
  • Global Supply Chain Management

2. To get to this point, the United States needs to confront some tough realities about its education system:

The core problem is that our education and training systems were built for another era, an era in which most workers needed only a rudimentary education.  It is not possible to get where we have to go by patching that system.  There is not enough money at any level of our intergovernmental system to fix this problem by spending more on the system we have.  We can get where we must go only by changing the system itself.

Powerful material, indeed – and considering the supporting materials already circulated like the aforementioned Time Magazine cover story and today’s Thomas Friedman op-ed in the New York Times (subscription to TimesSelect required…sigh), it looks like this Commission has the ears of influential policy leaders.  The emphasis on the creative element – perhaps the “creative” moniker – is somewhat surprising to me, but it’s encouraging to see that leaders like those on the bipartisan Commission are looking in that direction for our country’s future.

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1. The Intangible Economy - December 14, 2006

New workforce skills report

This morning, the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce released its report: Tough Choices or Tough Times. The Commission (and the report) is a follow up to the influential 1990 report America’s Choice: high skills or low…

2. Wyn Achenbaum - December 16, 2006

“To educate men who must be condemned to poverty, is but to make them restive; to base on a state of most glaring social inequality political institutions under which men are theoretically equal, is to stand a pyramid on its apex.”
— Henry George, “Progress and Poverty: An inquiry into the cause of industrial depressions and of increase of want with increase of wealth … The Remedy”

— and reissued this year in a modernized abridgement as “Progress and Poverty: Why there are recessions and poverty amid plenty — and what to do about it!” — available from http://www.schalkenbach.org/

I’m all for fundamental reform, and I’m persuaded that education is part of that — but a necessary part not a sufficient part! George provides the reform which is necessary and perhaps even nearly sufficient, which would then allow the educational reform to achieve its objectives. — see the quote I started with!

3. Paul Hebert - March 17, 2007

A great discussion around this issue of education for the future of the US can be found at ( http://www.strategy-business.com/press/article/06212?pg=0 ) wherein William Ouchi discusses how the education system was designed during the 1950’s based on a fairly homogeneous population of students and designed around a “factory” mentality. He makes some great points about how we need change the system by creating global goals with local implementation.


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