Over the last twenty years or so, a consistent theme of employers has been that American education is not providing candidates with the underlying literacy and computational skills needed for employment. The most frequently mentioned deficits involve phonics, vocabulary, spelling, reading comprehension and computational math. In 2014, I read a blog from the UCLA Extension by Gorkem Yantem titled, “What Business Needs, What Education Provides.” Two comments in the article caught my eye.
- We don’t have a jobs crisis in the world, we have a skills crisis. 45% of US employers say lack of skills is the “main reason” for entry-level vacancies; only 42% of worldwide employers believe new graduates are adequately prepared for work.
- Worldwide, educational institutions are out of sync with employer needs. While 42% of employers believe newly educated workers are ready for work, 72% of educational institutions do. This is an enormous mismatch. Primary and secondary educational institutions are not keeping in touch with corporate recruiters and the needs of business.
Clearly, there are a variety of reasons for the lack of graduate skills; however, the general acceptance of lazy speaking patterns and poor writing habits seem especially troublesome to me. In years past, a superior education fostered reliable oral and written communication skills, which together became an indicator of and a requirement for success. Today, those marked in such a way risk being labeled as stilted or archaic. Thankfully, economic success in contemporary culture may be achieved in myriad ways, including athletic prowess, entrepreneurial triumph and technological creativity (i.e. programming an application or developing a hardware component). However, this lulls some to believe that foundational skills lack importance or that success is a grand lottery, which is based more upon chance than hard work. Technological advances in data retrieval, voice recognition and auto-correction have superimposed the misconception that such advances preclude the need for developing personal knowledge or precise communication skills. Texting language is something else entirely! With some justification, students are more tempted than ever to say, “I don’t need to know how to do that, the computer will fix it!” This begs the question, is the computer the composer or merely a transcriber?
Perhaps this often repeated comical poem will encourage vigilance in insisting upon the basics and to remind us that trusting technology to “do it” may still not be ready for “prime time.”
Eye Halve a Spelling Chequer
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
When eye strike a quay or right a word
I weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar wright
It shows me strait a weigh.
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two lait
And eye can put the era rite
Its really ever wrong.
Aye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect in it's weigh
My chequer tolled me sew.