The AJC has decided to elevate the conversation about training Georgia’s high school students for the workforce. Using the editorial board’s “Atlanta Forward” soapbox, they penned a weekend piece framing the transition from a goal that all kids would go to college into recognizing that many Georgia jobs are going unfilled due to lack of training for skilled labor:
The case has never been stronger for the benefits to be gained by refining how we school youngsters and even adults for the ever-changing world of work. That entails everything from stressing competency in applied math to honing the “soft” skill of working well as part of a team. Doing this is really a matter of dollars and cents to households, this region, state and nation.
At a forum last month on “preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce,” Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education President Stephen D. Dolinger told attendees that, “We know that good education is good economic development.”
Sound research bears out this thesis. A new study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce documents substantially greater earnings for the average person who completes some form of job-related training after high school. That’s not to devalue the long-lauded pursuit of a four-year, or even two-year, college degree. It’s simply about providing more choices and options — recognizing, for example, that some engineers drive spreadsheets and others drive trains. Both are pretty well-paid, especially when compared with those who lack marketable skills.
Students early in high school need to be given salary and benefit information for welders, electricians, and plumbers. They also should take a look at current unemployment rates for C student recent graduates of colleges with dubious majors. A college degree is not a guarantee of employment or financial success. A real job skill would serve many of Georgia’s students better, and would help attract the employers here that we need.