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The New Untouchables

October 22, 2009

I just read a very interesting Op-Ed piece from Thomas Friedman. He quotes Harvard labor expert Lawrence Katz:

“If you think about the labor market today, the top half of the college market, those with the high-end analytical and problem-solving skills who can compete on the world market or game the financial system or deal with new government regulations, have done great. But the bottom half of the top, those engineers and programmers working on more routine tasks and not actively engaged in developing new ideas or recombining existing technologies or thinking about what new customers want, have done poorly. They’ve been much more exposed to global competitors that make them easily substitutable.”Those at the high end of the bottom half — high school grads in construction or manufacturing — have been clobbered by global competition and immigration, added Katz. “But those who have some interpersonal skills — the salesperson who can deal with customers face to face or the home contractor who can help you redesign your kitchen without going to an architect — have done well.”

The Mr. Friedman adds,

“So our schools have a doubly hard task now — not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.”


2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 23, 2009 7:19 pm

    Not wishing to echo my response to Mr. Wall’s blog, the question remains as how do we best prepare our students for an economy that will be greatly changed in 20 years or less? The challenges that will be faced by the District’s strategic planning will be enormous. What restructuring will be necessary to equip our student to be major contributors in a global economy in which the major players are ever changing? Let us continue the tradition of being a District on the cutting edge and create a vision that will propel our students to greatness!

  2. Matt permalink
    October 27, 2009 11:21 pm

    The reality is, we don’t truthfully know what areas of the job market are going to be secure 5 or 10 years from now, when Saline Students will be entering careers. What was true a decade ago isn’t true now, and we can’t be certain what is true now will be true a decade from now.

    I do agree with Mr. Friedman, that for Americans to remain competitive, we must foster creativity as well as develop problem-solving skills beyond that of the basic curriculum.

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