Dear Editor,

I was pleasantly surprised to get a newsletter in the mail from Belle Plaine Public Schools District 716 outlining their Career and Technical Education initiatives.

Having worked in the technical fields for 30 years, I saw the critical shortage of skilled workers. The need for students with technical skills coming out of high school will only increase going forward. This is especially important for students who are not ready for college, want to avoid big student debt, and want to start making good money right away. Business spends a lot of money training and retraining adults lacking the right skills, so it is a win-win for them to hire right out of high school. There are an estimated 240,000 jobs in Minnesota that will go unfilled by 2022. If Minnesota doesn’t make progress adding trained workers, we risk losing out on billions of dollars in future economic growth and the opportunity to put more people in good jobs.

Like it or not, technology will be part of every job and profession in the next 10 years, so it is important for students to see the correlation of math and science to making money, rather than watching the clock and checking out.

I was also pleased to see they are teaching Personal Finance in the 8th grade. I once taught Junior Achievement in the Junior High with Dan Dressen, and was surprised to find how little kids knew about things like balancing a bank statement, budgeting, and the relationship between the amounts of income you make to the amount of spending you can do. (I dare say the federal government has still not learned this lesson!) I always thought this should be a life skill taught in the schools, so this is great.

Kudos to everyone in the Belle Plaine school district for stepping up to the challenges of the 21st century for our young people.  

Mark Hodapp

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