As America approaches a new century, there are growing concerns about the capacity and commitment of its work force. As our world becomes more of a global community, the emphasis of competition has shifted from military to economic affairs. Many observers have concluded that unless significant remedial actions are taken, the United States' leadership position in the global economy and in world affairs generally will be adversely affected.
The future of America's youth, present and forthcoming, also is at stake. Employability is a prerequisite for both economic and social survival of the individual. The alternatives are dependency, discouragement, and alienation. Health and educational barriers to employability must be confronted and surmounted.
The focal points of many of these concerns are the changing workplace and the failures of the public health and education systems adequately to prepare the work force of the future to compete at home and abroad. Since the 1980s scores of commissions and task forces have issued reports and have made recommendations. Scholars and researchers have published volumes of statistical data and analyses. Politicians at all levels have made competitiveness, jobs, schools, and health care visible and sometimes heated campaign issues.
The results of this outpouring of information, ideas, and insights have produced much debate but insufficient action. To a certain degree, the public policy agenda has been overloaded with proposals and counterproposals. It has often been difficult to identify successful innovations and experiments and to disseminate information about them on a continuing and effective basis.
The purposes of this book are to "take stock" of the situation by collecting in one place vital statistics, recent analyses, and replicable case studies that relate to the conditions of and challenges confronting the workplace and work force of the future. Further, major policy options for improving our nation's health care and education systems are presented, and their pros and cons are analyzed.