Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Perfect Storm Brewing in America?

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Perfect Storm Brewing in America?

Article excerpt

A recent report from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) points out three factors at work in the United States that together have the potential to unleash a socio-economic storm of massive proportion, the effects of which could be devastating. America's Perfect Storm: Three Forces Changing Our Nation's Future outlines current factors contributing to increased social and political polarization and a growing gap in wages and wealth: "divergent skill distributions, the economy, and demographic trends" (p. 3).

The disparity between literacy and mathematical skills as well as educational attainment-specifically high school graduation-within the U.S. population has remained stable or increased over the past two decades. Surveys of the adult population indicate insufficient skill levels for full participation in the increasingly complex and competitive work and social environments. In addition, levels of attainment are markedly uneven in their distribution by racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic status.

Economic forces contributing to the predicted storm revolve around shifts in the labor/capital balance, wealth distribution, and international trade. As jobs in the manufacturing segment of our economy have become scarcer and the percentage of employed persons over the age of 16 has grown, employment openings for jobs requiring some college-level education have also increased. Further, almost half of the country's employment growth in the next 10 years is predicted to be in college labor market clusters. …

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