A Bleak Future For the Unprepared

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I cringe too.

I cringe when I see black children growing up in households with no books and computers, and struggle to read children’s books at ages when they ought to be reading young adult fiction. I cringe when schools scrimp on teaching science and math and the critical thinking skills they will need to adapt as technology continues to change and make everything that they once knew obsolete.

And I especially cringe at all the misguided solutions – like charter schools and voucher schools run by people who care more about profiting from the desperation of poor, black parents – being directed toward this problem.

But even with all the uncertainty, there’s hope.

Besides demanding an education that prepares our children for a realistic future – few of them are going to be Beyonces and LeBrons – we have to insist on access to lifelong education that helps us all to keep up with a market being reshaped by technology.

A 2011 study by the McKinsey Global Institute, in fact, claims there will be a demand for workers with a post-high school education, and that employers are having trouble filling jobs that require technical skills.

According to Forbes, such jobs include information security analysts, web developers, mechanical engineers and online ad managers, as well as human resources and labor relations managers.

A large-scale public jobs program might help many black unemployed regain the footing to start over. But I also believe that more efforts should be targeted toward preparing both black adults and youths to compete for jobs in a world that will need fewer workers who only know how to follow orders, and more who can think and adapt.

Because there’s no falling back on working at McDonald’s now – and if things keep going the way they’re going, pretty soon robots will be taking people’s orders.

And there’s not a whole lot that the president can do about that.

Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or visit her webpage and blog, “Tonyaa’s Take,” at www.tonyaajweathersbee.com.

(Photo: AP)

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