Mar 25 2008
By: Dumping Ground  shortURL

Our education system is preparing students for jobs that do not even exist.


Finally, somebody said this out loud. We need to get wise about manufacturing. As if to understand, there won't be much of it here in the future. Globalization is here, and has been here since the web has had a presence. Americans like to use terms like free trade and globalization. What many don't understand, this is a race to the bottom. Bottom being the cheapest. If virtual design, virtual engineering and virtual meetings can all be done here, but China can make it, where do you think it's going? At $160 (link...) per month, do we really think their labor rates are going to rise to ours anytime soon? If theirs don't rise, how do we get fair trade? The answer is - we don't.

We should be setting up our kids for knowledge based and service skills. Skill sets that are proprietary to them. Setting them up to make widgets is setting them up to be jobless.

I'm actually against Free/Fair trade with impunity with those countries that are communist and/or have no desire to fulfill their end of the agreement. Remember, NAFTA was going to "fix" the environmental disaster that is Mexico. Remember China was going to improve it's human rights efforts? How are those things working out?

Look at this way, if Levi's was still here, a worker might make $20 an hour. The locally made jeans in a store would cost $60. Outsourcing pays a foreign worker $4 dollars an hour (figure shipping/handling) to make the jeans. Now the jeans can be sold in the store for $20. Problem is, the $20 per hour factory worker is now at one of the discount big box stores making $7 per hour.

See the paradigm shift? The jeans are going to be three times your hourly wage regardless. But all that assumes the basis of our economy remains Materialism/Consumerism. What happens when or if this ceases to be the case? Suppose we are not buying or manufacturing? The answer is - have a skill or knowledge you can sell anywhere in the world. BTW - prepare your kids for transatlantic flights when they are ready to fly away from the roost.

That's my take. I know there will be many here to tell me how I've got this wrong. Trust me, I look forward to it.

You got it right, Dumping

You got it right, Dumping Ground. Skipping over the part about how many of us knew that NAFTA and rampant globalized trade was going to get us where we are, the question is: what now?

I do not see leadership here within the school systems or local governments that understands and accepts the requirements for education that you mention. There are too many people running things that think they did ok with the kind of pretty good schools we have had in Blount County so what's the big deal? Matt Murray of UT and the chair of the Economic Development Board understands, but he does not have much help from people who have experience with and knowledge about the kinds of trends you call our attention to.

Another point to consider is

Another point to consider is training for trades. Do we even have vocational schools any more?

Not everybody is able or inclined to go to college to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer, and there wouldn't be enough of those jobs if everybody did.

You can't outsource plumbing, carpentry, auto repair, appliance installation/repair, infrastructure construction/maintenance, public safety, etc. etc. I guess you can outsource it to overseas companies, or "insource" it using illegal labor. But the point is that there are lots of things that have to be done right here, and some of them require skills and training.

From the article:

"Knox County Schools Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Donna Wright said schools have placed a stigma on vocational, technical and industrial professions. Educators need to bring honor back to these professions, she said."

You’ve actually stumbled upon some truths.

It takes government a little longer but eventually they figure it out. Private schools figured it out years ago. South College in Knoxville (formerly known as Knoxville Business College) went out into the community and asked, “What do you need?” The responses were nurses and accountants. The average accountant in Knoxville makes more than the average attorney simply because of the market surplus. (Apparently, you don’t have to be that bright to be an attorney.)

But I digress. You have to respond to market demands. That’s what makes capitalism so great. It doesn’t matter what the jeans cost relative to the factory worker; it matters what the consumer is willing to pay. Obviously, $20 jeans are better for the consumer than $60 jeans. If the $20 per hour factory worker finds him/herself in a $7 per hour job, then he/she needs to go to school in the evenings so that he/she can leave the $7 per hour job. That is one of the positive externalities of outsourcing; it encourages us to better ourselves. But whatever you do, don’t rely on government. They will screw it up (i.e. Social Security).

What do we do? Be service oriented and do away with these “English as a second language” classes at school. It is garbage. In Japan, students are taught English throughout their entire school career. Why? Because English is the language of commerce.


Every now and then, a blind

Every now and then, a blind dog finds the bone, Lester. I guess all us liberals/socialists/communists who think the market is not our divinity accidentally have an idea you cannot dismiss immediately as a threat to the rule of greed and bigotry. Must be confusing.

Just a little.


The Future is with....

After a visit a few yeas back to Taiwan, I came a way with a hopeful feeling that life for many people in the world is improving. I was also terrified at what I perceive to be the obviousness which most Americans have regarding how competitive the Asians are. Yes they work hard but they also work smart. Many of them are multi lingual including the women working assembly jobs in the factory. I think the future is with all individuals who embrace opportunities through out the world. Ironically if we want to keep English the Lingua Franca and to be competitive we should be training our many of our youngsters not just English but Spanish (to do business in the southern hemisphere) and Mandarin which the Lingua Franca of the world's fastest growing 1.2 Billion person market- China. The world of business opportunity is widest opened to the persons with the widest skills. An English only mentality will soon have the same historical relevance as buggy whips.

Forrest Erickson


Dr. Erickson:

I agree. It is a shame that we don't have at least 8 different choices of Foreign Languages, in all of our country's schools, by now. Me thinks one might add Farsi to that list as well, because it's not just China's economy growing, but their neighbors as well. Mandarin MUST be taught no later than 5 years old, for the Western ear would have a time distinguishing twixt their Vowel inflections, in later years.

viva Evo Morales

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