Educating the Workers
Interweaving Rhode Island’s institutions of higher education with the business community is certainly a wise intention, although I think John Kostrzewa oversells the centrality of such a move to a recovery of the state’s economy:
Sue Lehrman, founding dean of the Providence College School of Business, has been in Rhode Island for less than six months. But already, she understands the mismatch that has stalled the state’s economy.
Employers complain that they can’t find the skilled workers they need to expand, and college graduates can’t find work.
As a result, the state’s development — especially of knowledge-based companies in the new technologies and life sciences, which pay big salaries — stumbles along while the old economy continues to shrink.
The job losses are piling up. Last week, the state reported 11,300 jobs have disappeared in the last year and the unemployment rate spiked to 7.2 percent, the highest since 1994. More than 41,000 residents are out of work and looking for jobs they can’t find.
For one thing, Lehrman’s suggestion (as Kostrzewa describes it) doesn’t include any new mechanisms for getting current workers back to the classroom. More significantly, I’d suggest that Rhode Island’s economy is just so out of whack that focusing on such a narrow lane can be a distraction. Better aerodynamics on a car that doesn’t run don’t do anybody much good.
If the academic cohort wishes to move Rhode Island forward, nothing would be more helpful than helping students to understand what’s wrong with the way the state does business. Perhaps a required course on economics and the dangers of corruption?