The Skills Gap Emerges
To ensure a more prosperous future, we must improve productivity and our competitive position. We cannot simply do this by using better machinery, because low-wage countries can now use the same machines and can still sell their products more cheaply than we can. America is headed toward an economic cliff. If basic changes are not made, real wages will continue to fall, and the gap between economic “haves” and “have-nots” will widen still further.
—COMMISSION ON THE SKILLS OF THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE, AMERICA'S CHOICE1
1990: America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages!
The opening quote sounds like it's from a 2013 political speech, doesn't it? But it came from a 1990 report from the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, appointed by the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Rochester, New York–based nonprofit group “created to develop proposals for building the world-class education and training system that the United States must have if it is to have a world-class economy.”2
A New Model Is Necessary
Based on 2,000 interviews with respondents at more than 550 companies and government agencies in seven countries, America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages! reiterated the growing crescendo of warnings: the American workforce and education system were missing the seismic economic shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy. The report warned the following:
The organization of America's workplace today ...