Re: ECON: Lack of skilled people in the USA

From: Randy Smith (
Date: Tue Jan 30 2001 - 19:16:26 MST

>From: Max More <>
>Subject: ECON: Lack of skilled people in the USA
>Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001 17:14:40 -0800
>Nothing that most of us don't already know, but here's a scary set of
>facts, considering the importance to us of continued and accelerated
>technical change:
>If competitive success is achieved through people, then the skills of those
>people are critical. Consequently, one of the most obvious implications of
>the changing basis of competitive success is the growing importance of
>having a work force with adequate skills. Historical studies show that
>between 1929 and 1982, education prior to work accounted for 26% of the
>growth in the productive capacity of the United States, with learning on
>the job contributing to an additional 55%. It seems clear that "learning in
>school and learning on the job are by far the most important factors behind
>American economic growth and productivity in this century, and will
>determine the nation's economic prospects in the next."(33) The evidence,
>however, is that skill problems in the U.S. work force are widespread and
>Moreover, there is little evidence that U.S. employers, for the most part,
>are doing what is required to address this problem. Regarding the first
>point, the skill problem, an overview of training and preparation for work
>concluded, "As we approach the end of this century, it becomes ever more
>apparent that the demand for more skilled workers is on a collision course
>with the quantity and quality of the labor supply."(34) In an article
>reporting the declining position of the United States in world trade in
>telecommunications equipment, the New York Telephone Company reported that
>"it tested 57,000 job applicants in 1987 and found that 54,900, or 96.3%
>lacked basic skills in math, reading, and reasoning."(35) A human resource
>planning document prepared at the Bank of America in 1990 reported that
>"Chemical Bank in New York must interview 40 applicants to find one who can
>be successfully trained as a teller";(36) "at Pacific Bell in Los Angeles,
>95% of the 3,500 people who recently took a competency test for entry-level
>jobs not requiring a high school education failed"; and "at Motorola, 80%
>of its applicants cannot pass a simple 7th grade English comprehension or
>5th grade math test. At Bell South in Atlanta, fewer than 1 in 10
>applicants meet all qualification standards."(37)
>A U.S. Department of Education report covering document, prose, and
>quantitative literacy summarized the findings of a study mandated by
>Congress because of its concern about skill deficiencies in the work place
>and came to equally grim conclusions.(38) For instance, in 1986, only about
>50% of all high school graduates achieved literacy at a level that would
>enable them to follow directions to travel from one location to another
>using a map, and only 10% of the graduates could use a bus schedule to
>select the appropriate bus for given departures and arrivals.(39) Only 3%
>of high school graduates could orally interpret distinctions between types
>of employee benefits, and just 4.5% could estimate cost using grocery
>unit-price labels.(40) Assessments of mathematical proficiency are also
>distressing.(41) Almost one-quarter of high school seniors could not
>accurately determine the cost of a simple meal from a short menu of items
>and prices,(42) and fewer than half "demonstrated a consistent grasp of
>decimals, percents, fractions, and simple algebra."(43)

Your implicit agreementr with the gist of this article seems at odds with
your Libertarian stance. Why should a Lib care if others in the country
(Libs don't like countries anyway, etc etc) he happens to live in are (most
certainly arguably IMO) less skilled than they should?
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