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January 25, 2012 / Thinknology

State of the Union: Workplace Skills

One the highlights of President Obama’s State of the Union address focused on training skilled workers. He cited businesses that want to hire in the United States, but cannot find workers with the right skills. He went on to say that, in the science and technology industries, there are twice as many job openings as we have people who can do the jobs. This is unacceptable at any time, especially in times of high unemployment.

The president provided an example of a mechanic who was laid off, but was later retrained for another job with same company. The company provided training through a partnership with the local community college and is a model for partnerships between local businesses and educational institutions.

This is great for keeping jobs in this country and to increase the employability of skilled workers, but we cannot forget about the unskilled workers that make up a large part of our adult basic education population. These adults often lack the  basic skills needed to look for a job, get a job, and keep a job without any formal job training. And they will doing double duty as they work toward a GED while conducting a job search and trying to hold onto the job they get.

Many adult learners will be ideally suited for entry-level jobs that do not need extensive job training, but rather a strong work ethic, basic academic skills, and reliability. Every so often we hear about a company executive who started out in the warehouse and worked his way up the ladder.

Going back to the President’s example, there is no reason someone can’t start an entry-level job, learn the skills for that job, and then be retrained for another job. He or she just needs the basic tools to get the first chance on the ladder to success.



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