Congress and the President continue to focus on the minimum wage. They should be focusing on how to Increase the skills of the American worker!
Millions of jobs cannot be filled because workers don’t have the necessary skills. What’s the solution?
More technical training programs!
In metro Kansas City we are fortunate to have a number of quality programs at our high schools and community colleges where young men and women can earn certifications and degrees in highly skilled, high demand fields like manufacturing, health care, auto technology, welding, graphic design, culinary arts and more.
The Olathe, KS school district is a state and national award winner where the lives of students are being changed and the new face of the American work force is taking shape.
Here are just a few stories from the Olathe Career and Technical Education programs:
- After being shot, a young man turned away from inner city gangs, found a new pathway in auto technology, graduated from the Olathe Advanced Technical Center (OATC) with multiple industry certifications, became the first in his family to go to college and is now earning over $60,000 right out of community college.
- The athletic trainer for an NFL football team is a graduate of the Olathe Sports Medicine Program.
- Chefs graduating from the Olathe Culinary Arts programs have won national competitions, received scholarships worth millions and are now working in the finest restaurants in the U.S. and Europe.
- Nearly 100 young men and women graduated, earned industry certifications and found well-paid jobs right out of Olathe high schools this year alone.
Industry representatives are literally standing at the end of the graduation lines to offer these kids jobs.
What’s particularly moving about these stories is that many of these students were ready to drop out of school before they found these hands-on, career training programs. Nationally over 75% of all kids who are failing in school are boys. On the other hand, over 90% of boys who take technical education programs at schools like OATC graduate with above average grades and go on to meaningful careers or success in college.
Programs like these prove that we can get a great return on our education dollars. Economic research shows returns of up to four-to-one on the cost of career and technical training programs vs. the taxes collected and economic benefits generated by these well-training and highly motivated new workers.
Nationally, there is talk of the income gap. I believe it’s an opportunity gap. When a person doesn’t have the necessary skills to do more than flip burgers, then they’re only worth minimum wage. But, if our schools and businesses can provide the training these people need, their skills will be magnified and their pay checks will grow accordingly.
Looking out over the coming decades there will be millions of new jobs available that require skilled training, industry-required certification and some post-secondary education. They’ll be in the health care, manufacturing and high-tech fields. But, the vast majority of these jobs will not require an expensive, four-year college degree.
Urge your local, state, school district and federal government leaders to focus on the solution to higher pay: Greater Skills!!!
Let’s not focus on the minimum wage. Focus instead on more skills for greater income and success!!