Robert Half just released the results of its Finance and Accounting Survey in which 36 percent of the CFOs who responded said that the number one reason that new hires don not work out is poor skills. I would suspect that if you talked to operational executives you would get the same feedback. So, if this country is so great why do we get this type of response to such surveys?
NBC is in the process of conducting its 2011 rendition of Education Nation and they have pointed out that despite the presence of No Child Left Behind, our level of proficiency of students in school is dismissal as a whole. Granted there are exceptions across the country. But the results are still there.
As human resource professionals and citizens of this country, we need to take the time to speak out and tell our elected federal, state and local officials that it is time that eduction not be the sacrificial lamb it has turned into. I spent 6 years of my work career in the classroom and I can tell you from first hand experience we have forgotten how to challenge our students so that they have the necessary critical thinking skills to survive in the workplace. When I have an educational professional tell me that if he taught today's children the way he taught when he started teaching 25 years ago he would have to fail every student, there is something wrong with the picture. I taught middle school science and I can tell you that the majority of the exercises that we gave the students, today would not be tolerated. Never mind that I had students for the first time in the history of those schools went on to state and regional science fairs with projects which were more complex then building a volcano.
We are confronted with talent without the appropriate skills for the workplace because we teach to tests. We are confronted with talent without the appropriate skills for the workplace because Gen X parents have pushed for placating the students. No homework, it might hinder their social development. No pushing the envelope on in classroom activities because it might push against the grain due to narrow views of the world. Never mind that diverse opinions is what makes this country great.
If we want to regain the status in the world, we claim we want, then we need to return the educational experience back to the systems of the 1960's where as students we were challenged everyday to think and critically explore the issues that were real to the world. We were challenged by the material not by what test we were going to take at the end of the year. Other countries in the world are turning out larger numbers of students who can critically look at the fast changing world in which we live. Are we going to regain that status or continue with this failed view that when budgets are tight that we cut programs that benefit the students over managerial programs and salaries.
We have the ability to push our agenda to return the US to greatness in the innovation arena, but not when the first thing we cut is the very programs that will get us there. Not when we tell students through our actions that education does not mean anything. Not when we teach to tests that have no real bearing on the workplace of tomorrow or even today. So unless you are willing to take up the challenge and change legislative minds, do not complain that you can not find talent with the proper workplace skills.