Author Topic: What to Do About America’s Low-Skill Work Force By Michael Barone  (Read 275 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline mystery-ak

  • Owner
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 242,602


October 15, 2013 12:00 AM
What to Do About America’s Low-Skill Work Force
The U.S.’s economic future may not be as bright as its past.
By  Michael Barone

Some bad news for America, not on the political front this time, but in what corporate executives call human resources.

It’s from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s report on adult skills, based on 166,000 interviews in 24 economically advanced countries in 2011 and 2012.

The verdict on the United States: “weak in literacy, very poor in numeracy, but only slightly below average in problem-solving in technology-rich environments.”

On literacy, just 12 percent of U.S. adults score at the top two levels, significantly lower than the 22 percent in largely monoethnic and culturally cohesive Japan and Finland. American average scores are below those in our Anglosphere cousins Australia, Canada, England, and Northern Ireland.

One-sixth of Americans score at the bottom two levels, compared with 5 percent in Japan and Finland.

On numeracy the United States does even worse — only 8 percent at the top levels and one-third in the lowest.

Americans do better at problem solving in tech-rich environments, which economist Tyler Cowen in his new book Average Is Over says will be of great economic value in the future.

One-third of Americans score at the top two levels, while one-third score at the bottom or lack such skills altogether.

That puts us just below the average of the countries tested. Finland, the Netherlands, Australia, and Canada are well ahead.

The OECD report finds a wider range of skills in the U.S. than in other countries surveyed. Americans with only high-school educations perform worse than their counterparts in all but one other nation.

And the report found that socioeconomic background is more strongly correlated with skills proficiency in this country.

In addition, there is the uncomfortable finding that disproportionate percentages of blacks and Hispanics have low skills.

Fully half of the Americans with the lowest level of literacy are Hispanic (presumably reflecting some immigrants’ weak English) and another 20 percent are black.

This is probably true of other groups as well. In his 2012 book Coming Apart, Charles Murray showed that the 30 percent of whites with the lowest education and income levels have low rates of family formation, little involvement in voluntary associations, and high levels of substance abuse.

Most likely, people of any race or ethnic group who have divorced or single parents, or who are divorced or single parents themselves, tend to lag below national and international averages in literacy and numeracy.

Another disturbing finding of the OECD is that younger age cohorts in the U.S. do not seem to have skills as high as those in the cohort just below age 65.

All of this suggests that America’s economic future may not be as bright as its past — or that the current economic doldrums may turn out to be the new normal.

What to do? The OECD sensibly calls for better education and more adult skills training. In fact, many worthy attempts have been made and are being made to improve education around the country, and some have had positive results. Even the Obama administration, despite its political debts to teacher unions, has pitched in to some extent.

In the meantime, the United States can do something about improving skill sets by changing its immigration laws to increase high-skill immigration.

Current immigration law has inadvertently resulted in a vast low-skill migration from Latin America, especially from Mexico. Unanticipated large numbers have used the family-reunification provisions to come in legally, and large numbers have crossed the border illegally.

Congress can change that by cutting back on extended-family reunification, improving border enforcement, and requiring use of E-Verify or other status-verification technology.

More important, Congress can vastly expand high-skill immigration. The Senate bill passed last spring goes some distance toward this, but not far enough.

The U.S. should take a lesson from its Anglosphere cousins Australia and Canada, which both have higher immigration proportionate to population and which both outscored the U.S. in literacy, numeracy, and high-tech problem solving in the OECD survey.

Australia and Canada allocate large shares of their immigration flow by point systems, which give credit for educational achievement and marketable skills. They do not necessarily tie high-skill immigrants to a single petitioning employer, as H-1B visas do in the U.S.

Both countries are attracting high-skill immigrants, especially from China and India, and both have had better-performing economies than the U.S. does.

Making a concerted effort to attract high-skill immigrants should be a no-brainer for America.

Support the USO
#NeverHillary  Not#NeverTrump

Offline jmyrlefuller

  • J. Myrle Fuller
  • Hero Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 10,827
    • Fullervision
Re: What to Do About America’s Low-Skill Work Force By Michael Barone
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2013, 09:27:00 AM »
The problem with comparing us to Canada and Australia, or Japan, or Finland, is simply the issue of borders.

Japan and Australia are island nations. Their only borders are the oceans. That is a pretty strong deterrent to illegal immigration.

Finland's only land border is in the far north of Russia.

Canada's border is with the northern United States. It's more political than any real cultural difference. Most of the people who bring down the American average are in the south and in cities far from the American border.

The United States has to deal with a southern border that is directly connected to the Third World. The closest comparison you might be able to make is with the UK, which in its misguided attempt to imperalize the world, ended up importing all sorts of third-world types and became, like the USA, a cultural mishmash. They're not that far ahead of us.

Higher performing countries like Canada and Australia have the capability to keep undesirables out of their countries. The United States does not, and not only that, its history of relatively liberal immigration has contriubted to today's problems.

Yet in "Right Thought," diversity can only be good.
Proud supporter of the Free Conservative Resistance • #NeitherTrumpNorHillary

Reminder: no party or candidate is entitled to my vote by default.
"Just because people in positions of authority are stupid, it doesn’t mean you have to go along with it." —Arlo Guthrie
"You can't fix stupid." —Ron White

Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo