May 16, 2022

“Education should not be the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats

Recruiting and retaining a workforce is the number one economic development issue across the country. It is true that this is the most challenging labor market for employers in decades. The learning loss from the pandemic is real and so are the expectations of the workforce going forward. The need for skilled employees is accelerating and the growth and labor participation rates are flat.

It is also true that we have an abundance of talent and a bright future for all around us. Last week I was able to spend some time with the Ohio State University Engineering school faculty, leadership, and some select students. To say that our future is in good hands is an understatement. OSU’s engineering college is one of the nation’s best, but as a public school, it is also representative of the programs and the great young mind that are shaping our future.

Too few of our young people are receiving an education that teaches them the basics of math, science, and reading that sets them up for the future. However, many students are receiving an excellent education, and they are increasingly diverse and brilliant. All young people deserve our attention and energy because they are not just our future workforce, but our leadership, innovators, and the caretakers of our economy. If you are doubting our future, please spend time with these young people, offer them an internship or volunteer at one of the great programs in your community. You will likely walk away feeling more optimistic about our future than you began.

Thank you to all the educators, formal and informal, that bring out the best in these young people. You have our support and admiration!

-Kenny McDonald