Over-Schooled and Under-Skilled
The result of America’s college addiction, driven largely by government and politicians’ encouragement and fostered by the development of a huge for-profit college industry, will haunt America’s economy and social structure for years to come.
A larger percentage of high school graduates continue with a four-year college education in America than in any other developed country, and most obtain a liberal arts or related education that, in general, does not qualify them for a career. In parallel, skill education, particularly in engineering and technology areas, is quite deficient and consists largely of ill-funded community colleges and squandered vocational training facilities. At the same time, in professions such as medicine, it is recognized that there is an urgent need for well-qualified medical professionals who are not doctors, with six to 10 years of study and training. Physician Assistants or PAs have become a popular profession, and PAs are qualified to perform a large range of treatments and procedures, relieving the strain on doctors and hospitals.
There is an urgent need to establish a similar level professional in engineering, science, and technology areas if America is to regain its industrial and manufacturing competence and ability. America’s renowned major technical universities, such as MIT, could lead this effort and introduce a one- to two-year technical competence program to which high school graduates are admitted, and which consists of 6-8 hours/week of classroom instructions and 20-30 hours/week of workshop or laboratory training under supervision of qualified instructors. After a two-year period, participants would be examined in both theory and practice in their chosen area of technology, engineering, science, or management.
There is an urgent need for skill building in America and no better place than the workshops and laboratories of major universities and research labs to do it. Here young people can learn not only how to use tools and convert concepts into meaningful products and solutions, but also how to organize the realization of concepts and ideas.
Labs and workshops of universities and research institutions would also benefit. Recent history shows that many, if not most, new concepts or inventions were advanced and often developed by non-experts not afraid of raising the “why not” questions.
It is important to recognize that new blood, thought, and questioning minds are often the seed for scientific, technological, and management advances. We should have both the courage and patience to consider the approaches and concepts of completely novel ideas. Similarly, classes will be informal and use remote and electronic methods to permit students to review subject matter at their leisure, but should include rigid testing and competence reviews. Most importantly, students should be kept to a rigid work and study discipline and expected to properly contribute to workshop and lab work.
Program in Certificate of Competency in Engineering and Science
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