A Call for Employer-Educator Cooperation

IN April 1990, then-Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole established the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The 31-member commission's assignment: defining the skills high school graduates need to enter the work force.The commission recently released its report, "What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000." The group of business and education leaders found that "more than half of our young people leave school without the knowledge or foundation required to find and hold a good job." "What we've found is that we are not preparing our young people for the world of work. But this country, for a variety of reasons, has done a very good job of figuring out what it takes to prepare children for college," said commission chairman William Brock when presenting the report. "Employers and educators must come together in a marriage of necessity if our youngsters are to be prepared for meeting the challenges of securing rewarding and well-paid work," added the new secretary of labor, Lynn Martin. The SCANS report, resulting from a year's work interviewing employers, managers, and workers, identifies five "competencies" and three "foundation skills" that are "essential preparation for all students." Basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic are one component of the foundation. But the report encourages parents, businesses, and schools to place as much emphasis on such skills as using computers, teamwork, reasoning, and allocating resources. Ms. Martin, a former high school teacher, has initiated a series of 10 regional meetings designed to help communities implement the report's findings. "A strong back, the willingness to work, and a high school diploma were once all that was needed to make a start in America," states the report. "They are no longer. A well-developed mind, a passion to learn, and the ability to put knowledge to work are the new keys to the future of our young people, the success of our businesses, and the economic well-being of our nation."

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