How High School Math is Wrecking Kansas City’s Worker Pool

The Kauffman Foundation played host to a panel discussion on finding quality employees in Kansas City. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

KANSAS CITY — A summit of industry leaders, educators and other concerned citizens met at the Kauffman Foundation this week to discuss why Kansas City companies are having trouble finding employees with the right technical and professional skills. The answer that emerged is at least a little unsettling. As the Kansas City Star reports:

Here’s why many Kansas City area employers aren’t finding the top-notch workers they need:

High school students shy away from tough math and science courses because they’re afraid of hurting their grade point average or simply aren’t interested.

College students jump from major to major, and then sometimes settle on fields with few job prospects.

Colleges and universities, constrained by accreditation procedures, alter curriculum at a snail’s pace and can’t keep up with employers’ demands for credentialed, just-in-time workers.

Busy, growing companies don’t have time for employee training. They need contributors from the get go.

Kevin Truman, the dean of the engineering school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, sees light at the end of the tunnel, though, but it could take a major change in the way universities operate:

“Our industry partners can request changes to let us open up,” [Truman] said, referring to accreditation rules. As it is, he said, “We’re afraid to move away from the accreditation path.”


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