SC Legislator says, "If we just train our young people for high tech jobs, our young people will leave us."

Senator Kevin Bryant reports on his blog a debate between two SC House of Representative District 8 candidates. The challenger said,

    In order to attract more jobs, we need to properly train our young people for high tech industries.

And the incumbent, Representative Don Bowen, responded,

    If we just train our young people for high tech jobs, our young people will leave us, in search of these jobs. We need to use our greatest asset, Hartwell Lake, to create new jobs.

I commented on the site where this was reported,

    We have a serious culturial problem when it comes to education. It is horrifying that someone running for the Legislature would actually say if we educate our children they will leave us. This is one of those deflating comments that makes it easy to believe that all our efforts to move South Carolina forward are just futile because the culture is broken.

Then a response to my comment made the whole episode even more puzzling.

    Mr. Don Bowen’s statement concerning educated young people will leave us in search of high tech jobs was puzzling at best. However, his personal history indicates that he highly values education. Mr. Bowen grew up in a family with little education and money, but he was able to climb the corporate ladder through solid education in marketing.

I've heard it said before that at least some parents in poverty worry that if their children are educated they will leave them. But to hear it from someone in the SC Legislature is incredible. The most discouraging thing about it is he may be accurately stating the concerns of many of his constituents.

If anyone knows Mr. Bowen, it would be terrific to get some additional thoughts from him about education.

Some days it's easy to be optimistic about the progress we are making. And then on other days...

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I agree with the legislator, but maybe for a different reason. I will state upfront that everyone should be educated to the highest level possible, but not necessarily for high tech jobs. There are several reasons for this.

There are many different types of jobs in an economy, and I would argue that the number of high tech jobs in an economy is a small percentage. The majority of people do not need to be scientists or engineers. We also need great managers and great people in many other fields.

High tech jobs will most likely require a high degree of math and science skills, but all people are not naturally gifted in these disciplines. Other people may be naturally gifted in other areas. Should we force people to be educated in areas they are not gifted in?

One of the most sucessful persons I know avoids all things technical. Because of his people, organizational, and leadership skills, he is very successful. Technical skills are only a part of the picture.

The legislator is correct to a degree. I am an engineer and most of the projects I work on are not local projects, and many of the friends that I graduated with that are engineers left the state (Not all, but many).

You can train people for high tech careers, but if the jobs are not here, then the people have to leave.