The U.S. workplace is polarizing between the education haves and have-nots, says David Autor, professor of economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. So-called middle-skill jobs, typically well-paying work that doesn’t require extensive higher education, are vanishing, dividing the labor force into high- and low-skill positions. While women are moving up the knowledge ladder, male educational attainment is growing at a slower rate.
“It is terrific that women are getting higher levels of education,” Autor says. “The problem is that males are not.”
Men lagging behind on education raises problems for how fast the U.S. economy can grow because there aren’t enough highly skilled Americans, creating a mismatch between company demand and labor-market supply.
Bonnie Dunbar, Chicago-based Boeing Co. (BA)’s director of higher education and science, technology, engineering and math, says the U.S. doesn’t produce enough engineers to fill the needs of growing businesses like hers that also must replace retiring professionals.
“There is a shortfall now,” Dunbar says. “It is a recruitment challenge. You have these 70,000 engineers graduating every year, and you have all the companies in the U.S. competing for them.”
America’s educational lag is what “keeps me up at night,” Andrew Liveris, the chief executive officer of Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co., told Bloomberg News.
‘We need Ph.D.s and scientists and chemical engineers, materials engineers,” he said in a Feb. 28 interview…
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