The Economic Slowdown

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Don’t Let Green Job Opportunities Slip through Your Kids’ Fingers

When new jobs are created, will our children be qualified to get them? Or will
they lose out on opportunities because they didn’t get the necessary education
and training?

Experts predict a boom in employment in the area of renewable and efficient
energy, environmentally friendly building and manufacturing, and related
technology. The economy currently generates about 1.3 million new “green
collar” jobs per year, and, by 2030, the number of U.S. jobs directly or indirectly
related to energy efficiency and conservation will likely reach 40 million,
according to a 2009 report by Fortune magazine.

But there are also troubling signs that, overall, U.S. students should be doing
better in math and science.
    In the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)
        comparison, American students ranked 21st out of 30 in science literacy
        among students from developed countries and 25th out of 30 in math
    On the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math
        tests, fourth graders showed no signs of progress for the first time in many
        years, and eighth graders tallied only modest evidence of progress.

Green consciousness is growing around the world. Engineers, analysts,
architects, researchers, project managers and product designers in many fields
will be fostering environmentally and socially responsible approaches to products
and services. Will the United States have enough candidates to fill the related
jobs? Currently, it does not.

It’s surprising, isn’t it? Despite the high unemployment rate, many jobs in
technology, energy and healthcare are going unfilled, CNN Money reported. In a
recent survey by Human Capital Institute and The Ladders, more than half of
employers with long-standing job openings attributed the problem to a lack of
qualified workers.

So what’s the solution? Access to work-readiness education, provided to young
learners at an early age, is the obvious answer. Also important is that education
include learning the STEM skills—science, technology, engineering and math—
that are so essential to 21st-century innovation and development. U.S.
Department of Labor projections indicate that 90 percent of the fastest-growing
jobs require education beyond high school, and nearly half of the high-growth
jobs identified are STEM-related.

Many U.S. school systems are coming up short in preparing our children for
tomorrow’s working world, because of a lack of funding, the economy, and
organizational obstacles. But we have an option: we can take advantage of
volunteer-led, classroom programs offered by nonprofit organizations like Junior

JA’s program Our Nation™, for example, teaches fifth-grade students about the
business world and emphasizes the importance of STEM skills in the global
economy. This curriculum, sponsored by United Technologies Corporation, helps
students realize that staying in school and acquiring solid, marketable STEM
skills can increase their career opportunities and earning potential.

Right here in [city, state], students are learning from volunteers from some of
America’s top companies, including engineers and business leaders from UTC,
about what it takes to be successful in a completive global economy.

This approach is an important alternative to consider. The quality of life that we
enjoy today is dependent on the next generation of employees and
entrepreneurs. We need professionals who have the skills to fill the jobs that
support and safeguard our economic growth. I know I want that opportunity for
my children. What about you?

Author’s name [Your board chair or JA Member Office president]
City, State