Training for the real world


Terena Bell
MultiLingual December 2013

It’s not just mediocre American fast food joints feeling the brunt either. On June 22, The Economist reported that a lack of skilled workers could “kill” the fashion industry in Italy. Not being able to buy a ham and biscuit is one thing. Take away my couture and we have a real problem on our hands. Yet in the article “Dropped stitches,” designer Ermanno Scervino says, “Within a generation the ‘Made in Italy’ label may be gone.” Fashion, one of the few industries in Italy to survive the economic downturn unscathed, is now in jeopardy for the same reason the Hardee’s in Cadiz, Kentucky shut down. . .

It’s easy for me to chalk all this up to a lack of work ethic and capabilities, but surely this broad-sweeping generalization can’t hold true. It’s too easy to stereotype, too easy to blame. Another Economist article presents a much more logical solution: we’re just not training folks right. It’s not that we don’t want to work; we just don’t know how. In “Best and brightest,” which ran August 17, The Economist reviewed Amanda Ripley’s book, The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way. According to Ripley, children in the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany aren’t learning problem-solving skills at a successful rate. However, Poland saw this problem coming way before the rest of us and actually took action. When Miroslaw Handke became Minister of Education in 1997, he put the focus back on simply teaching students how to solve problems on their own. In other words, buy a man a fish and he’ll eat for a meal. Teach him how to think critically, he’ll eat caviar for a lifetime. . .