Reflecting on the recent presidential debates, employment has become an easily identifiable topic. A clear weathervane for and consequence of the economy, the solution is quite complex and cannot be exhaustively distilled in the time allotted to either presidential candidate. At the same time, the solution or solutions are worthy of articulation and action. From my vantage point, one solution sits at the nexus of education, entrepreneurial activity, and the innovation economy: Training highly skilled individuals that are prepared to work in areas of job growth.
President Obama has stated that "making an investment in education is critical to not only you (the individual), but the entire nation." Although this is true, the standard path of education vis a vis a four-year university has faltered under during these tough economic times, not always delivering on the promise of employment. Additionally, President Obama has highlighted how important it would be for him to make sure that the best education is available. So what then, can be done to keep education in line with employment?
"What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?" --Jeremy Epstein (20), Junior at Adelphi University
One unique approach to this has been Boston Startup School, an intensive program for young professionals to gain practical and in-demand skills, all the while transitioning into full-time employment at some of the fastest growing startups in America. With 80 percent percent of its graduates gaining high-skilled jobs in one month after completion, this is a marked improvement on the current national statistic -- 40 percent of those unemployed have been so for 6 months or more.
Those who say the labor market needs to be focused on manufacturing and blue-collar jobs for the largest demographic of the U.S. are partly right. However, neither Mitt Romney's plan to create 12 million jobs in four years nor President Obama's plan to focus on training talent to incentivize companies to operate here cannot be achieved if technology startups are ignored.
Furthermore, the means by which we as a nation will be more competitive globally exist squarely in innovative endeavors. From an education perspective, this means fields such as science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). One understated destination of a career in STEM, particularly concerning technology, is the tech startup. Here, these newly created companies pack themselves with the intelligence, ambition, and potential to create. If successful, that penchant to create leads to the creation of new jobs, new industries, and other geneses that will uplift our country. It is important that we bring these career paths to light; presenting opportunities that are a hybrid of the intellectual and entrepreneurial as viable route to employment outcomes.
The swings of the economy can bring about the rapid growth of corporations as well as the disruptive creation of new companies. But for the workforce to adapt to this volatility it takes practical learning, where practicality is defined by the subjective opinion of those enjoying the power and influence of an upswing. Regardless of which candidate wins the presidency this election, voters of both parties need amelioration around the long and circuitous road to employment we are facing at present.