Beating the Skills Mismatch to Fight Unemployment

Photograph by Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

An army pilot checks the tail rotor of his Blackhawk helicopter at Kandahar airfield.

GE, United Technologies and the captains of industry are finding ways to tap college labor talent earlier than they ever have before. They’re shaping the curricula and tasking students with building rocket launchers and tools to disassemble gas turbines.

While companies have funded research at universities for decades, now they are getting deeply involved in what students learn and what projects they do in some four-year technical programs, Bloomberg’s Craig Torres and Steve Matthews report.

“I want more than my fair share” of the engineering talent, United Technologies CEO Louis Chenevert said in an interview. The work he’s offering young engineers includes “exciting stuff” like the Black Hawk helicopter.

Educators and businesses are looking to fix a skills mismatch that has been partly to blame for persistently high unemployment since the 18-month recession ended in June 2009. The jobless rate has stalled above 8 percent for 40 straight months. The unemployment rate for youth between the ages of 16 and 24 with a bachelor’s degree or higher has averaged more than 9 percent annually since 2009.

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