Cooperation between education and business has the potential for creating a better world for both.
A state task force on Education and Economic Development has prepared a game plan for enhancing the relationship and is investigating ways to implement the plan.The task force met Wednesday with Gov. Norm Bangerter, who applauded the effort and told the group to "move from theory to application."
The thrust of the plan is to develop partnerships between businesses and schools. The objectives also include making schools more responsive to the needs of Utah businesses to build a work force that matches the requirements of companies that will ultimately hire the students coming out of the school system.
Economic development in Utah is inextricably tied to education, Bangerter said. Education must be more market driven and produce a quality work force. At the same time, business must be involved in planning a flexible technology-based education system.
The task force has identified a number of ways to bring about these ends and determined how business, education and government must interact to implement the goals.
Bangerter said it is time schools "train people for the reality, not spend money for jobs that aren't there." He predicted Utah's economy will never return to the days of automatic budget increases each year and stressed the need for innovation and cooperation. He pledged his support in encouraging state departments of government to support the task force objectives and in pushing legislation where necessary to meet the goals.
Donald Holbrook, a member of the State Board of Regents and task force chairman, said Utahns fail to recognize the value of education's role in the state. The schools are the fourth-largest employer in the state and have a profound effect on the quality of life.
"We need to do more horn-tooting," Holbrook said. "We need to come out of our ivory tower with some very progressive programs."
James E. Moss, state superintendent of public instruction, suggested that responding to the needs of the business community will make education itself more business-like and efficient. In other areas of the country, he said, business and education have created compacts to further their mutual interests.
Business could encourage better school performance, he said, by refusing to hire students who don't perform up to standard in school.
The task force will continue finalizing its recommendations and prioritizing them, and hopes to begin a plan of action after its April 21 meeting.