GBC’s Fry: Workforce Preparedness

Don Fry Commentary on WYPR

Communication and teamwork in education are becoming increasingly important to workforce development in Maryland. More teamwork is needed among educators and businesses if we’re to meet the demand for a knowledge based economy and qualified workforce in the coming decades.

Maryland’s bioscience employers say that many graduates of the state’s four-year colleges generally are not ready for the jobs they enter. Academic programs to prepare students for the bioscience industry fail because teachers do not understand the industry, say the experts.

Communication issues in education are not restricted to bioscience. They arise on more basic levels.

Thirty percent of students who complete college prep courses at Maryland high schools can’t handle freshman-level math or English when they get to college, according to a recent education report.

More than half of students who earned Associate degrees at Maryland community colleges in 2005 lost credits when transferring to four-year colleges in the state because of departmental disagreements over the value of course credits. Twenty-five percent lost between 7 and 20 credits, research shows.

These are just examples. Maryland’s secondary schools and colleges are working hard to address these communication gaps. And it’s not necessarily a surprise that such problems arise in the process of preparing the state’s 600,000 high school and college students for the workforce.

Educators and business people are plenty busy just addressing day-to-day issues in classrooms and the marketplace. Teamwork can suffer under such circumstances.

That’s why business advocates should support current efforts by the state’s Workforce Investment Board to team Maryland industry and labor leaders with educators to establish standards and benchmarks for the state’s educational system in developing skills for jobs in bioscience and 10 other industry sectors.

The outcomes of such teamwork will be well worth the time and effort.

Business leaders and academics need to reaffirm, in an organized way, their natural partnership in grooming Maryland’s students to thrive in a workforce where their talent and skills are sorely needed.

For the Regional Business Report, this is Don Fry, President of the Greater Baltimore Committee, for 88.1 WYPR, your NPR news station.

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