NLA Discussion: voc training the sole purpose of adult ed?
arthur at ellijay.com
Wed Nov 17 13:15:25 EST 1999
About five years ago a small manufacturing company of stove and oven
controls here closed up shop and moved to Mexico. The reason was
because they were putting out bad equipment and almost lost all their
accounts. An investigative team from the home office discovered that of
the 15 or so folks working in Quality Control, only one (the supervisor)
could do math at the level required to understand the Quality parameters
specified in the associated manuals. The team strongly suggested that
everybody (especially QC) in the plant be assessed for math skills and
be provided math remediation ASAP. Plant workers officially threatened a
walk-out to plant management if this was attempted. They closed up shop
and displaced 179 workers within the quarter.
About two years before this incident another much larger air
conditioning manufacturing company located here went through a very
similar scenario. Equipment and work load was moved to an adjoining
state, only upper level management transferred, everybody else was laid
off. Several other companies have seriously considered moving into the
vacant buildings and/or community and have passed it up.
Almost 50% of the adult population here over the age of 25 is without a
high school or GED education, not counting the Hispanics from Mexico and
Guatemala who come here to work the chicken processing factory. Cold,
wet, no skills required. New highway has brought in the fast food, high
volume dept stores, etc. These new small industries can't find and hold
onto academically qualified workers, or they make token attempts at
If you do the high level math, it's exactly as Kathleen indicates,
Capitalism will satisfy itself regardless. And why not? Look at the
tax base that is being spent on educating the work force and then
critically examine the success rate of that system. IF it were a
"business" we would have shut it down and moved on to something else.
David asked why business and industry has maintained a low profile in
sponsoring workplace education programs. I think they sensibly expect
that the work force should come to them already prepared to accomplish
the jobs. We're not "providing" much for industry, they still have to
buy their own teachers and materials to reeducate those folks that the
other system said were sent on to them educated, or that couldn't be
This is a political paradigm that has no concrete solution save that we
as a society change our collective perspective of the value of
education, and revamp the current system(s) to satisfy the needs of our
own economic survival.
Gilmer Learning Center
Kathleen Bombach wrote:
> I agree with what you said, with one exception. We are constantly marketing
> El Paso to higher wage industries. The problem is they are ignoring us and
> going to Tucson, Albuquerque, Austin, etc. The reason? Those cities have
> much better educated workers. If they are going to pay higher wages they
> want better skilled workers. The companies that look at El Paso are looking
> for the lowest US wages they can pay. So it is a chicken-and-egg phenomenon.
> Companies that pay better go where the skills are. Pretty much they ignore
> El Paso. So do we improve skills so we can attract those companies? We
> cannot control the companies' behavior through social exhortations or by
> appreciation to workers once the workers are no longer cheap enough.
> Capitalism is inexorably rational and inevitably cruel.
> Kathleen Bombach
> >>> "Andres Muro" <AndresM at epcc.edu> 11/15 9:24 AM >>>
> Jay, et al:
> Let me explain what I meant by dead end jobs. In El Paso, my community,
> thousands of women have worked for the garment industry for many years in the
> past. They are actually responsible for the growth of our community to what
> it is now. In addition, they have dressed many us throughout the country.
> Many have devoted over 30 years of service to this industry and helped
> companies grow considerably.
> We should be eternally grateful to the labor of these individuals and the
> pride with which they have performed it. Over the past few years, these
> companies have been going overseas. Most of these women have been left
> without employment, or benefits. Many of them are in their 50s and 60s.
> Instead of thanking them, we are asking them to retrain in another skill and
> find employment again, starting at minimum wage. I, for one, resent what I
> consider abuse of the labor force.
> What our city is trying to do, is to attract companies, and tempt them with
> the minimum wage, desperate labor force that is readily available.
> Manufacturing industry with their sights in Mexico and other countries, have
> made El Paso one of their transition points. This phenomenon is not exclusive
> of El Paso. We should advocate for better support and treatment of our
> laborers, since they deserve it. Educational settings are places where
> students can discuss workforce realities and explore possibilities. If they,
> then, make certain employment choices, at least they know what they may be
> getting into. Literacy is not to just train people for the workforce, but to
> facilitate a better understanding of it.
> >>> <JCretella at aol.com> 11/13 1:29 pm >>>
> Dave..Yours is a good analysis of the two point of view on workplace
> education. I take issue, however, with the connection you and others make
> in referring to "low paying, unfullfilling, dead-end jobs". Just because a job
> is low paying does not mean it is unfullfilling or a dead-end job to the
> person who holds it...Many of the adult learners who come into our center
> have such jobs and take great pride in them.I happen to believe that all work
> is worthwhile and we should not promote such a negative concept of
> work...as many adult are underemployed, they know that and aspire to something
> better...They know that underemployment is connected with under-education.
> Many view their job, regardless of the pay scale, as a stepping stone...When
> we label jobs as unfullfilling or "dead end" we just add to a sense of poor
> self-esteem. Every job is important to someone..Just a point of view...
More information about the Nla-nifl-archive