The New Year always brings about a plethora of lists. The
previous year’s best and worst laid out for all the world to see. Companies vie
for top billing in employee satisfaction and profits. Individuals compete head
on for product innovation and revenue. Fortune, Forbes, and Fast Company all
have a list. They are meant to be recognition for a job well done but they are
even more valuable as a glimpse into the future. Yesterday’s success is
tomorrows skill set in demand.
Inc. Magazine puts out their 30 Under 30
list, which is a look at America’s hippest young entrepreneurs and their
companies. The bio’s detail how the idea came about, where they got the money,
future plans and a bit about the company’s culture. It’s rather inspiring;
America’s youngest, brightest, adventurous minds at work. It’s also an alarming
look at the crooked, broken path from school to work.
This is the first full generation of Americans who have
moved from kindergarten to college without any universal access to vocational
skills. It was about sixteen years ago, after all, when school districts
started moving “shop” off the main calendar and targeted those classes for
certain kids. It was the time of NAFTA, Welfare to Work, School to Career, and
the Workforce Investment Act. All of which played a part in encouraging
community colleges to shift from technical training in favor of faster, less
expensive coursework. It was when we decided that work – back-breaking, sweaty,
America-building work - wasn’t good enough for our children.