By Amanda Burdette
BALTIMORE – Young people who enter the work force immediately after graduation from high school have poor writing, reading and communication skills, according to findings of a new survey by the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.
The University of Baltimore’s Maryland Business Research Partnership surveyed 970 employers statewide. Among the results announced Wednesday:
* Sixty-nine percent had problems with employees’ writing and reading skills.
* Seventy-three percent said students’ communication skills were lacking.
* Ninety-three percent thought technical training in high schools is important.
* Forty-four percent said the need for graduates of vocational programs would increase in the next five years, an indication of the force technology has played in the corporate world.
At a news conference, Nancy Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, stressed the need for technical training and standardized testing in the public school system.
“The work force can’t be better than the excellence and preparation of our students,” she said. Just because Maryland is “third in the nation in SAT scores we can’t rest on that. It is uneven and not responsive to our business community.”
Grasmick called for a “bold step” to “ensure accountability” by making sure students are receiving the same education across the state.
One way to do this is by having students take assessment tests in order to receive their diploma, she said. The State Board of Education will vote on this in December.
Noting that another survey will be conducted in 18 months, Grasmick warned that results won’t change “until there is a way to validate [student’s educations].”
Raymond A. Mason, chairman of the roundtable, observed, “The world has changed. It used to be your brawn alone would get you work. Now it is not the case.”
James T. Brady, secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, called for development of a “world-class work force in Maryland.”
“We have to raise the bar,” Brady said.
He suggested this be done by creating a strong partnership between educators and business leaders.
“We need to get past advisory boards and wine and cheese parties. It is time to get really involved — businesses talking to students and [school] administrators going to businesses,” Brady concluded. “It is an essential marriage.” -30-