By: Juliann Talkington
Juliann Talkington is the administrator of the Panama City Renaissance School. Reach her on 850-215-8712 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have beautiful beaches, few traffic problems and warm friendly people, but we still struggle to diversify our economy. How is this possible?
A discussion with a Coastal Systems Station science official highlighted one of challenges. According to this person, it is very difficult to find and attract technical people who are US citizens to work at the base. The salaries are good and the working conditions are pleasant. So why aren’t people in Bay County lined up to take these jobs?
The major problem appears to be education. Bay County has few people qualified to take these high paying jobs.
As an example, last week I learned an intelligent, talented member of our community could not handle basic percentages. He graduated from high school with close to a perfect grade point average, but has seen his earning power and opportunities dwindle as technology has all but eliminated his livelihood.
By not providing him with the necessary technical skills to make a career change, our education system failed him.
The tragedy is today we are graduating many people like him. And unlike people graduating with limited skills in late 70s or early 80s, people without technical abilities today will be out of work in the few years rather than a few decades.
One simple way to solve the problem would be to require students to take at least one semester of math and one semester of science each school year. Even though there would likely be many complaints, this option is more realistic than one might think. If no one told our kids math and science was difficult and we had more people who loved the subjects teaching them, our kids would achieve a much higher level of proficiency. Like most things, good math and science skills take nothing more than exposure and perseverance.
So let’s expect our kids to have verbal and technical literacy, so they can succeed in the rapidly changing workplace. If we are willing to take the simple step of requiring more math and science courses, we can assure our children have job opportunities, our employers have job applicants, and companies considering the area have an incentive to locate here.