U.S. employers worried about unprepared younger workers are putting pressure on schools to improve math and science scores, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The United States trails behind China, Singapore, Japan, Korea, Australia, Germany, and the U.K. when comparing average math and science scores for 15-year-olds in 2009.
Employers are also concerned about the number of experienced employees who are poised to retire from company payrolls. Approximately a quarter of U.S. manufacturing employees are 55 and older.
Some businesses and organizations hope to turn the tide. Here’s a look:
- The National Association of Manufacturers seeks to standardize curricula at community colleges, certifying students in industrial skills and moving toward competency-based education.
- More companies, such as BMW AG in South Carolina, are requesting customized training at technical colleges to train qualified workers for their payroll. In Ohio, the Lorain County Community College’s Nord Advanced Technology Center offered 41 tailored courses for individual employers this year.
- The Math and Science Initiative, funded by companies such as Exxon Mobil, foundations, and the federal government, seeks to train teachers in science and math and extend college-level coursework to high school students.
- The Dyson vacuum cleaner company is sponsoring after-school engineering clubs at 20 Chicago public middle schools.
Jack Jennings, chief executive officer of the Center on Education Policy, said in the article that employers are right to worry that the U.S. is falling behind. However, employers should be patient with the political process, as U.S. education policy is mostly decided at the local level, compared to countries that can make quick nationwide changes. The problem doesn’t lie entirely with educators either; students and parents should take school more seriously, he said.