By Katheryn Hensley
As a society, we all desire for each child to attain success, every adult to obtain gainful and meaningful employment, our quality of life to be enhanced as we grow toward a vital future and a citizenry totally engaged in creating a world where prosperity is for all. The key is education at all levels and in multiple ways.
The direct link between Pre-K/12 education and post-secondary career readiness is well researched; however, the future will offer jobs that may not exist today. It is imperative that we have job training for the employers of today while we create continuous learners who have the ability to change with the unknown opportunities of the future and be the agents of those innovations. There are a myriad of anecdotes of students graduating with a degree or professional certificate only to learn their chosen path no longer exists or is significantly diminished. More training, more coursework, a new direction, frustration, and more expense. Plato believed in a “liberal arts” education, not training for a job. He is still correct in most cases, but there is still a need for the straight-line-to-work education as well as the broader scope of skills needed to be flexible in the work-place.
At this time, school districts and post-secondary institutions are graduating more highly qualified students than there are regional jobs for them to fill. A true conundrum: education surpassing the job market. With such a well-educated work-force, can high wage jobs be far behind? Our students are better educated, better trained and better informed than any generation in history. The future of economic prosperity in our region is indeed great.
We want each child to become a contributing adult: education is the key. We want every adult to have meaningful, gainful employment: education is the key. We want a high quality of life in a beautiful, sustainable environment: education is the key. We want all to have a fair chance at a prosperous life: education is the key. There are no careers without education. There is no global competitiveness without education. There is no strong democratic republic with a sustainable economy without education.
The Pre-K/12 system + post-secondary job-training and degree programs + diversified careers = economic prosperity. Sounds simple, but the task is a challenge in a politically driven and often fragmented education continuum. It is a challenge that we must accept and successfully solve.