October 9, 2013

Much is being written these days about the workforce that America will need in order to compete in the 21st Century. Apparently, the jobs of today and tomorrow will require a workforce that is better educated and better trained than the workforce of the 20th Century.

No doubt, that’s all true. However, it will also be a gigantic mistake to ignore the basic knowledge skills required of every worker. That mistake will be compounded if we continue to assume that the necessary basic skills knowledge has been successfully acquired in our public school system.

So, it was not surprising to read an October 8 article (“U.S. Adults Lag Behind Counterparts Overseas in Skills”) in the USA TODAY by Greg Toppo that included the following:

“Americans have been hearing for years that their kids are lagging behind the rest of the developed world in skills. Now it’s the adults’ turn for a reality check.

A first-ever international comparison of the labor force in 23 industrialized nations shows that Americans ages 16 to 65 fall below international averages in basic problem-solving, reading and math skills, with gaps between the more- and less-educated in the USA larger than those of many other countries. . . .”

Not surprising!

Whether public education failed — or, the methods used to teach and train our adult workforce failed — is a blame that is probably equally shared. But, it is this latter shortcoming I will target as I believe that the training programs provided by most American industrial corporations should be the focus.


Because we are not going to send these adults back to public school — and it’s in every organization’s best interest to have a well-trained workforce!

Today, a solid background in industrial fundamentals such as work practice, proper tool use, applied industrial mathematics, reading and writing are all critical elements in any meaningful industrial skills training program.

Yet, adults in industrial environments have a difficult time learning from textbooks and traditional lecture classes that, generally, don’t relate to real life situations.

Worse still, is the assumption that many of these fundamental skills have been successfully learned in earlier public school environments.

Of course, that assumption is fatally flawed since most public school classrooms still deal in the old “lecture/assigned reading” method of instruction. And, as we all know by now, nearly half of our population lives today in a “television learning” culture in which video/simulation-based instruction is the better answer.

It’s the video or gaming-based instruction that make fundamental skills come to life by, among other attributes, showing how those skills relate to the job. These application-oriented approaches motivate adults. Real life situations present the “hows” and the “whys,” along with the facts — through job-related examples. What a way to learn!

Networked video and gaming programs in the areas of tool use, applied industrial math, interpersonal skills, reading and writing are designed to build a strong foundation for more advanced industrial skills training. More than just facts and theory, these programs prepare adults for the real challenges they will face on the job.

Industrial fundamentals instruction requires a continuing commitment — and, that includes training in the 3Rs and in logical thinking. The paybacks will be enormous!

More on Monday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning (Mondays & Wednesdays)