As many of you prepare yourself, your children, or your grandchildren to take the PSAT this week, you are taking a big step toward a college education: a step toward building skills that may be even more essential in the coming years. According to a report released earlier this year, the US is on a course to under-produce postsecondary graduates by 3 million by 2018. In a fast-moving and quickly evolving high-tech economy, this should come as no surprise.
Today, it is more important than ever for students to build additional skills beyond what is taught in high school. 14.4 million newly created jobs are predicted to emerge by 2018. Although we do not yet know what these future jobs will look like, we can speculate a few things about them. Information and communication technologies likely will be a key aspect of these yet-to-be-created jobs. New technologies are also predicted to become a part of many current jobs that will open up in the coming years due to the rapid retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. The skills required for these jobs will require 16 percent more of the work force to have at least a college education.
But before we can even think of graduating with a college degree, we must first be prepared to enter into the challenging world of college academics. But how prepared for college are students today? Although the current presidential administration has a goal to have all students ready for college or career by 2020, only 24 percent of current students are college- and career-ready.
Now, Delaware has begun to take steps to resolve this gap. New course requirements and Common Core standards are great steps forward, but the work is not done. We have to lower our dropout rate and get students enrolled in a full and challenging courseload rich in STEM subjects. We have to reduce and eliminate the achievement gaps so that students of all backgrounds can get the valuable skills they will need to succeed in the new economy. We must ensure our students have all the support they need to follow their dreams
The time to act is now.