Job One: Education And Skills Gap A National Security Risk
Stephen Gordon (New York, NY) —
Could a skills gap caused by a lack of global competitiveness by our education system be a threat to U.S. national security? At least one former senior military leader thinks so.
Fact: One-third of students dropping out of high school before graduation, and slippages of U.S. students in global rankings of math, science, and reading knowledge mean less-educated warfighters.
Fact: About 20% of military applicants do not meet minimum education aptitude levels for the armed forces.
Fact: Of the critical 17-24 year-old age bracket, only one our of four Americans qualify for admittance to the armed forces; 40% require a medical waiver, and 15% are too overweight.
These snapshots of how education and the skills of America’s youth have direct impact on the armed forces come courtesy of GEN (ret.) George Casey, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff. On a Tom Brokaw-hosted panel recently in New York, NY, GEN Casey talked about how there is no silver bullet for closing this gap, either. He said, “The scale of change is sigificant. It’s not all about just teaching math and science. We won’t be successful as a nation unless we invest further in the education of our youth,including practical and applied skills.”
At New York’s Museum of Natural History,Brokaw’s panel at the NBC News-hosted Education Nation Summit, called “Job One,” held a wide-ranging discussion of what “education” means in terms of competing in a global economy. The other panelists accompanying Casey were all CEOs: David Barger (JetBlue), Bill Green (Accenture), Shelly Lazarus (Ogilvy and Mather), Randi Weingarten (American Federation of Teachers), and Alfred Liggins (Radio One). Yet while a lot of the panel’s discussion may have suggested that improved mentoring programs and more practical work skills being taught in high school are preparing U.S. students to be part of a highly competitive workforce, Casey’s remarks demonstrate just how large the skills gap is – and how it affects the very safety we enjoy here at home.
Education Nation was co-sponsored by Microsoft, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a host of other large corporations and organizations. This is because private and civic sector organizations have a role – and some would say, a responsibility – to play not only to improve the prospects for their own workforces (Microsoft has about 90,000 full time employees, many with advanced degrees, not to mention thousands of vendors/contractors), but also to work with the public sector / government with a sincere interest in improving the state of American education, with a vision toward real impact for a better future.
Stephen Gordon is a Director of Market Development in Microsoft’s Enterprise Strategy Consulting business. You can follow him on Twitter at @sgordonmobile.
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