The New Middle Class Creating Wealth, Wages and Opportunity in the 21st Century by Steve Gunderson delves into the problems faced by middle class Americans. He expresses concern over the mismatch of American values, education, economic policy and American competitiveness. The middle class is slipping away and policy makers should consider new ways of encouraging a 4-5% growth rate and higher levels of educational attainment to maintain prosperity.
National development should be based on those values that made America great. It is the desire to continue to move up the economic ranks while not ignoring wider responsibilities. Yet without improving upon the education system the grasps of middle class are sifting through the hands of those who desire it the most. The system needs to change and improve if the U.S. will maintain its competitive stance.
The far majority of jobs today (85%) need some secondary education beyond high school. The path to maintaining the middle class is through education. It is a process of learning the skills, trades, theories, processes, technology, and values that will help individual families grow so that the nation may continue to lead. The quality of education, way in which government views education and economic policies should be reviewed.
Students will need to continue to learn throughout their lives and become the life-long learner. As the environment changes they will need to ensure that their skills are updated to match current needs. To graduate and never update one’s understandings doesn’t fulfill either individual or national needs. Those with less than a high school education earned approximately $21K per year while those with a bachelor’s degree earned approximately $58K per year creating a wide disparity. Income and life-long learning go together.
He provides the following strategies:
Strategy 1: Create a system for lifelong learning by engaging public-sector-private-sector partnerships.
Strategy 2: Create a growth economy in the U.S., enabling most Americans to work, succeed, and build a future.
Strategy 3: Create a new era of income security for individuals and families.
Steven Gunderson was raised in rural Wisconsin and made his way into both Wisconsin and national politics. He spent eight years in the house and was appointed to the White House Fellows program in 2010. The White House Fellows program was developed by President Johnson in 1964 and outlined its objective as, "to give the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs." He is currently the President of and CEO of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. You may learn more about him at Career.org