Column: The new America

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By Jon Parton

For much of our country’s history, manufacturing jobs have provided a way for unskilled workers to advance to the ranks of the middle class. With an unemployment rate of more than eight percent, we Americans have to face reality. We have to encourage the workforce to seek out training in community colleges, technical schools, and other programs.

The rights of workers are being crushed by the competing workforce in East Asia and South America. Not only do companies save money by exporting these jobs, they marginalize the jobs that still exist in our country.

Although a global market is nothing new, the openness of modern trade has made it possible for companies to minimize their costs in all aspects of production. Raw materials can be purchased from South America, formed into components in Europe, assembled by workers in Asia and shipped globally at a much cheaper expense than to do it all in one country. Those manufacturing jobs have left the United States, and the grim reality is that they are never coming back.

Our country has jobs. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough people with sufficient training to take those jobs. On the scale of the global economy, America must reform itself to be the heart of science and technology.

A high school diploma doesn’t cut it anymore. Our workforce must consist of engineers and programmers rather than laborers. Americans can no longer rely on the same jobs as our forefathers. There is no factory, there is no warehouse; there is only technology and the people who know how to use it.

Politicians would have you believe that they can somehow reduce taxes to create jobs. We don’t need to create jobs; we need to educate the populace in order to fill already existing positions that require training.

Instead of talking about tax breaks for businesses, we need to talk about how we can make it easier for people to go back to school to receive training. As Americans, we have to tell ourselves that it’s not OK to just have a high school diploma or GED anymore.

Technology and business demands are rapidly changing. Unless we’re willing to pursue education, unless we’re willing to encourage the next generation to pursue education, we will find ourselves to be inconsequential in the global market.

Science, technology, engineering, and math are at the core of the training Americans need in order to compete with the global workforce. Our country needs to take a place of leadership when it comes to creating and training highly skilled workers in the global market.

If we want to continue to prosper, we can’t put faith in our elected officials. We have to start putting faith in ourselves.

Contact Jon Parton, managing editor, at jparton@jccc.edu.

 

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