If more evidence were needed that a good liberal education is far from being a hindrance for finding a job, but just the opposite, consider these letters from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:
Regarding Nick Schulz’s “Hard Unemployment Truths About ‘Soft’ Skills” (op-ed, Sept. 20): I own and operate an employment service which has worked with dozens of small businesses in the past 15 years. We have jobs going begging for exactly the reasons mentioned by Mr. Schulz: the ability to write a coherent letter, use correct grammar while speaking, understand basic mathematics, interact well with clients and show up for work regularly.
The younger the applicant, the less likely he is to have these skills which older workers possess and take for granted. The less schooled young people are in the real basics of what it takes to be successful (not rich), the less likely they will be successful, and the less likely they will want to be successful—it’s just “too hard.” They’ve gone through 12 years of schooling with little homework, few hard deadlines, no points taken off a paper for spelling or grammar and a “we’re all winners” attitude (I know, I have a kid in public high school), and a few more years in college taking communication courses. Add to that a generation of parents-as-friends, single-parent households, a healthy dose of short school days and some very poor teaching along the way and, voilà, you have an electorate that is incapable of understanding or caring what it takes to obtain and maintain a job, let alone the impending fiscal nightmare heading squarely at them.
Nearly 40 years ago I visited a defense contractor building the latest high-tech fighter for the U.S. military. After a tour of the plant, watching people manning complex equipment and installing what looked like incredibly complex wiring, I asked the personnel manager at the plant what kind of skills he looked for in the people needed to work there. Did they need math, specific training in mechanics or what?
He said, “They don’t need to know anything in particular. We can train anyone who walks in the door to handle the specifics of the work we need done.” …
I can assure the 2.1 million daily readers of the Wall Street Journal that students at Ave Maria University who major in Philosophy, which is taught and studied here as a rigorous discipline, most definitely have these “soft” skills — just as I tell my students that they are on one of the best paths possible for success in the world of work.