At some point in their childhood, everyone is asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most children respond with fantasies like “pop star” or “President of the United States” because when you’re young, the future and having a job seems like a lifetime away. However, time flies, and before you know it, the future has arrived.
One of the biggest choices we make in our lifetime is choosing which path to follow after high school. It is an important decision, made rather difficult by all of the incredible options available. While most kids receive guidance from their families on which path they should take, many students also are receiving guidance from their schools, whether it be through a career class, teacher, or guidance counselor.
Unfortunately, these days most adults tend to want to steer our students toward a four-year university, without even presenting them with other valuable options. In fact, many of our students are taught to think that if they do not attend a four-year university, they will be less successful and their lives less fulfilling. While well intended, this advice is misleading overall.
Simply put, not everyone should go to a four-year university. Having the idea that they should is leaving our workforce unprepared and jobs unfilled while failing to meet the needs of our nation’s economy.
Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recently announced that there are currently 6 million vacant jobs in the United States, which is the most since the Department of Labor started keeping track in 2000.
The skills gap crisis is quickly growing, and its negative impact on our economy and the American people is a reason why this issue has become one that I am very passionate about.
If we are truly going to close the skills gap, I believe that we must close the communication gap first by reworking the way we talk about education, job opportunities, and entering the workforce. We need to do more to connect our educators, parents, and students with folks in various fields, so that students know every option available to them – not just the options that society deems most appropriate. If we can do that, then we will be a nation on track once again.
Communication Will Make The Difference, by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer
November/December issue of Precision Manufacturing
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