The magazine that turned college rankings into a big business is taking a long, close look at career and technical education.
Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer of U.S. News and World Report, sees the business opportunity in ranking technician education programs and the news value in covering the national STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills job crisis.
During an interview at the 2012 Advanced Technological Education Principal Investigators Conference where he facilitated a session with industry leaders, Kelly noted that so many teens are discouraged from considering career and technical education that “you almost need a change in the national consciousness about why this is a value and why four-year [college] maybe is not the best option.”
Kelly admits that he did not understand the seriousness of the middle-skill jobs crisis until an aeronautics industry leader told him “our problem is finding people to put the wings on the plane.”
Earlier this year, the magazine convened a national STEM conference of thought leaders and launched a portal that pushes out content on STEM employment and related topics. Kelly said he did this because he thinks it is important to find “better ways to get information to consumers so they can better understand the connection between skills and jobs.”
“I think there is a big problem in the job-information market right now. There is just not good information about what jobs are available, what skill sets [are needed]. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is pretty outdated when it comes to job descriptions,” he said.
As part of its business plan to connect job seekers with high-wage technical jobs, U.S. News has begun creating its own job descriptions, reaching out to the human resource community and engaging talent management personnel.
“The problem is a lot of companies want to solve their problem, specifically. They need to have an appreciation that growing the whole pool is good for everybody. So creating better ways for consumers to get information I think is a good goal, not just for the macro problem but for the micro problem,” Kelly said.