Politics

Employers Face a Disturbing Education Gap

Hiring skilled workers promises to be even harder in coming years if current trends in school test scores continue.

A persistent racial and ethnic gap in scholastic test scores poses trouble ahead for employers as the labor force becomes increasingly diverse.

White children consistently score higher than Hispanic and black children do at all age levels tested. Though the difference between average reading and math scores for black and white fourth graders has shrunk since the early 1990s, it remains large: 10% to 11% lower for blacks in both reading and math.

Among eighth graders, there’s been little progress in closing gaps between white and black students and between white and Hispanic youngsters in math and reading. There’s also not much narrowing between whites’ and Hispanics' fourth grade test scores.

Hispanics will be 18% of the labor force by 2018 -- 23% by 2030. The share of black workers will also increase a smidge to just over 12% by 2018.

Unless some way is found to close the gap in test scores, bettering the poorer performances, demographics will worsen employers’ woes, making it even harder to find qualified workers.

Growing diversity in the population is also making many jobs tougher. Increasingly, employees must be able to deal with both colleagues and customers speaking a hodgepodge of languages and representing a variety of cultures.

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