Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

The Workforce for the 21st Century

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

The Workforce for the 21st Century

Article excerpt


Workforce education and development is the key to promoting individual learning and skill training. Career and technical educators throughout the nation are affected by what goes on globally because of new developments, improved communication, faster travel, and increased commerce, which lead to global competition. What makes some nations rich, with their citizens enjoying a high standard of living, is commerce, that is, producing, selling, and buying goods and services that lead to jobs, individual wealth, and a high standard of living. For a nation to be competitive in a global economy, its human capital (workers) must be trained and educated to develop its natural resources and able to improve productivity and technology (Gordon, 2008; Gray & Herr, 1998a; O'Lawrence, 2008b).

Natural resources, technology, and human capital are important strategic economic advantages. Human capital is the most important of the three; the most important elements in the quest for a competitive advantage in commerce are the skills and initiative of a nation's workforce. Technology is only as good as the ingenuity of those who can both maintain and use it to its fullest potential. Those who have a workforce that can use the technology to the fullest will have the advantage over those who cannot, and those with the highest skilled labor force will be able to adopt technology faster and use it to produce the best quality at the lowest price (Gray & Herr, 1998a; Thurow, 1992).

Indicators suggest that the U.S. has the worst-educated unskilled nonprofessional/hourly workforce among the major economic powers because of a lack of investment in workers' training and retraining (Chao, 2006). The U.S. postsecondary education system represents the education of our workforce. Higher education has been a principal means of social mobility for many acculturating immigrants and for empowering minorities (Allen, 2002). Vocational education, increasingly known as career and technical education, is a longstanding program that continues to evolve in American education. The broadening of its goals, its participants' widening diversity, and the changing education and labor market climate in which it operates suggest vocational education programs are a flexible option for colleges and students (Silverberg, Warner, Fong, & Goodwin, 2004).

This study identifies and reports on (a) major factors that influence the nation's economy, (b) how well the unemployment rate is controlled, (c) the labor force, (d) employment growth, and (e) how committed the nation is to educating the labor force. These five areas prove in the analysis that they should be considered seriously, as they lead to increased global competitiveness. History also tells us that no society can long survive unless the society as a whole becomes aware that meaningful work, done well, and dedication are essential aspects of a worthwhile life. This should be made known in our classrooms and should be one of the major goals of education. It is important in the 21st century to reexamine and debate the importance of workforce education-corporate training and human resources development-on our economy: globally, federally, statewide, regionally, and locally. As we continue to review the current status of the economy, we should be concerned with unemployment, especially why college graduates can secure only mediocre jobs or nothing at all, and why our veterans are on the streets, homeless, jobless, and unwanted (O'Lawrence, 2008b, 2016).

When thinking about these issues, policymakers should consider the importance of workforce skill and retraining programs that benefit individuals seeking training for employment. As a result of these issues, this report proposes that political leaders and educational policymakers anticipate the nation's changing employment needs and facilitate better fits among high school graduates, college graduates, veterans returning from war, and employment opportunities. …

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