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Are we missing key lessons?

Ohio’s new two-year budget — now just a few weeks old — includes yet another attempt to fix public education funding in the state, but the fact remains that many individuals entering the workplace today lack skills that may not be easily learned in a classroom.

Although my decade-long hiring experience isn’t nearly as vast as some of my peers in the community, there seems to be a consensus among lots of local employers: Many of today’s job seekers have the “hard skills” that can be learned from a book or a computer but lack the “soft skills” that are more about someone’s overall behavior, personality and character.

You know, the little things like work ethic, punctuality, professionalism, neatness, dedication, loyalty and ambition.

Of course it is entirely unfair to generalize and there are certainly exceptions to every rule, but this seems to be a trend among many individuals seeking to enter the workplace.

It isn’t just about age either.

This workforce deficiency seems to cross all demographics but may be reaching epidemic levels amongst college students and recent graduates.

Recently I was talking with an individual who helps lead a nonprofit organization that is seeking a summer intern to help the staff get ahead for a busy time of the upcoming year.

The organization sent word to a local university that requires public relations or journalism students to have internships before graduating. The organization explained that it was a non-paid position but that the intern could essentially set their own hours, work at their own pace, adjust for their classes and anything else needed to gain valuable workplace experience.

Essentially, it was more flexible than any job since, well, ever.

In the more than three months since the group began looking, guess how many students have followed through with the application process to show they are really interested? Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

But I’m not laying blame for this on public education or higher education, although these institutions certainly must do more to ensure they do not continue the societal trend of not holding anyone accountable.

We, as a society, always seem to find a way to accept excuses and basically empower individuals to continue poor behavior. It is time to get back to basics when it comes to expectations of professionalism and hard work.

We have to change this trait in our culture and it starts in our homes.

I’m guilty as well. I hope to try to do better raising my own children but I often find myself doing many of the things that I think coddle individuals and create behavioral patterns that bring out less than the best in individuals.

So, all I can do is work hard to do better.

Throwing more money at our nation’s educational deficiencies may address some of the flaws, but we shouldn’t be fooled into thinking it will cure all of our ills.

As a society we created these problems together, it will take all of us raising our standards to fix them.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.