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What We’re Reading: America Needs Talent

In the 20th century the United States was able to be great in large part through new ideas and innovations such as curing polio and other technologies, but in the 21st century the U.S. has to be more creative in the ways it succeeds. According to James Merisotis, author of America Needs Talent (2015), in order tAmerica-Needs-Talent1o foster creativity we have to rethink and redesign the way higher education works; today’s system is inefficient. The system has to be student-centered and invested in talent. People who possess talent help to make a better society. But in order to produce talent, universities and colleges have to change their structures.

A big question asked was; does America need jobs? Merisotis replied by asking who creates jobs? People do. People who have ideas and who are educated create jobs. There is not a lack of jobs in America; rather there is a supply and demand problem. In order to fix this problem higher education has to be fixed; Merisotis described it as a patient in need of healing. One problem with higher education is that two thirds of jobs require post-secondary education, but the cost of production (tuition) keeps going up (at about 2 times the rate of inflation) making post-secondary unaffordable to many students. Another problem is that the labor market isn’t certain that schools are producing what they need. In other words it is not clear that higher education is meeting student or employer needs; more employee surveys have said that they want their employees to have problem solving and teamwork skills. Students need durable skills so that they can more easily switch jobs. The point of his book is that America needs to invest in talent for the sake of its students, communities, jobs and careers, and economy.

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