Education is the main thing when it comes to jobs now and tomorrow

Published 10:17pm Saturday, March 1, 2014

Education. Education. Education.

You’ve heard the old real estate adage, Location, Location, Location is often the determining factor in selling homes and property. In politics it goes like this … all politics is local, meaning that the most things political, whether local, state, national or world, ultimately have a local impact.

When local and state economic development officials work with existing and prospective industry to bring jobs to Brookhaven and Lincoln County the question at the top of the list is Education, Education, Education.

Existing and prospective Employers want to know if local schools (both K-12 and higher education) can produce the workforce not only for current employees but, more importantly, a future workforce equipped with the skills necessary to compete in a global and technologically changing workplace. Many communities have been dropped from consideration without even being visited because the company does not feel an adequate workforce can be continually available.

So, you may ask, what do students need to do to prepare for the skills sets that business and industry will require?

Since most jobs of today and into the future require increasingly technically skilled students, teachers and parents must understand that more math than just basic math is required. Technology today is based on math and science, and if workers are to use the technology to perform job duties, they have to be proficient in math, science and communications.

We had a class of journalism students from Bassfield High School in Prentiss in the newspaper this week. As we talked to them about jobs in the newspaper field, we stressed all the technology that we use today to disseminate our advertising, news and other information.

Newspaper reporters today must be able not only to write and communicate with readers but also understand digital technology. They must be able to make and transmit digital photographs, know how to use a digital camera and send stories via wireless connectivity from the community back to the office. In many cases, they will be able to post all this information to a web site and post on Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

We told these students that they must have an education that prepares them for a lifetime of learning. We have all experienced the boom of advanced technology and its impact on our lives. But I don’t think we have scratched the surface of how all of us are going to adapt our lives to the application and use of the technology.

School administrators and teachers themselves are continually learning new methods to teach with this new technology.

In the past, students were told that they must go to college if they wanted to find productive employment. That has not changed. However, some students will choose a technical education path. They should understand that technical education today is no longer the trades, such as auto mechanics, carpentry, electrical, masonry, plumbing, nursing or welding. Technical education is still those trades – but with all the technology applied.

Technical education has advanced with technology. To earn a college degree, technical certificate or diploma today, and be attractive to employers, students must have learned advanced math and science, have above average communications skills, coupled with a strong knowledge of fine arts. The technology that employers use now and in the future requires employees with the skill sets that can adapt to today’s needs but also have the foundation that allows for lifelong learning.

Teachers do and will teach the required skills. Parents must understand the needs required by employers and educators and encourage students to study and excel in class. The business community must communicate its needs to both educators and students.

Education, Education, Education.

This is an exciting time for all of us!

Otis Raybon is the publisher of The Daily Leader. Contact him at otis.raybon@dailyleader.com or (601) 833-6961.