Editor's Note (The View From Here)
Developing Human Capital
- By Deborah P. Moore
- March 1st, 2017
Years ago, the National Governor’s Association
made the statement, “the driving force
behind the 21st-century economy is knowledge,
and developing human capital is the best way to
ensure prosperity.” This is a statement that held
true then and still holds true today.
While personal prosperity may include an
element of luck, it is mainly influenced by our
incomes and our jobs. After years of high unemployment levels the
job market is finally improving — but it is also changing. It has
been reported that 35 percent of the job openings will require at least
a bachelor’s degree and 30 percent will require some college or an
associate’s degree. An area of growth will be in STEM-related jobs —
computer systems analysts, systems software developers, medical
scientists and biomedical engineers. There is no question that to fill
the jobs in these fields we need a highly qualified workforce… which
means access to a quality education.
In K–12, the keyword is not so much “access” as it “quality.”
Having had the opportunity over the years to visit a number of K–12
schools it is readily apparent to me that what is available to some students
is not available to others. New schools are being designed with
state-of-the-art technology and spaces designed for STEM education.
Unfortunately, of the 98,000+ public K–12 schools, not many of them
are new and even fewer are designed to adequately handle STEM. The
truth is that you are more likely to see schools built during our first
push for science education during the ´50s and ´60s — in response to
Sputnik being launched.
In higher education, access often comes down to dollars. Many
states are still faced with limited resources and fierce competition for
the funds that are available. This has translated into reduced funding
for higher education by the states and increases in tuition, resulting
in disparities between those who can afford a college education and
those who cannot. Thus, the problem — unless access to higher education
is increased and extended to larger segments of the American
population, hope of filling the deficit in skilled workers is nil.
Without a plan to provide access to a quality education for all,
prosperity will not be in our future.
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of College Planning & Management.