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The power of education.

I believe that synergy is the fundamental principle underlying all business activity. The market is a place where goods, services, and ideas multiply one another's impact. And in doing so, they create not just something else; they create something new.

I suggest there is no more synergistic human enterprise than education--that an educated person is, by definition, someone who can put more power back into the grid than he or she takes out. I believe that every element that has contributed to our success in the past, and the building blocks of our future, are all rooted in the same soil: education.

Think about your own company. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about engineering and design, or machining and tooling, or Total Quality Management and long-range planning. It all boils down to the same thing. All of them begin in education. All of them improve with education. And all of them point to the necessity for continuing education.

The high-tech, high-performance workplace is replacing the industrial workplace. In the industrial workplace, work is routinized and managed hierarchically; it emphasizes mass production by workers. But in the high-performance workplace, work is problem-oriented, flexible, and managed by teams. It requires workers who can think, who know how to manage resources, who can work well with others, who have learned how to acquire and use information, who understand systems, and who can work with a variety of technologies. The more technology-based our industry becomes, the better quality we are going to need in our people.

But it's not just human resource and workforce issues we have to deal with here. It's also competitiveness. And on that score, the clear evidence is that the crisis of competitiveness is also an education crisis. In some other countries you see a much tighter mesh between education and manufacturing. You see companies and government ministries cooperating to determine where both nation and industry need to be in 5, 10, 25 years. You see clear ideas about what companies want to achieve in that time, right down to the number of engineers they will need to do it. Then they figure out what they will need to get there.

The key to competitiveness in today's market is TQM--Total Quality Management. Its advantages--in the form of cost-savings, efficiency, and higher worker productivity--are all long-range advantages. They favor the manufacturer who is willing to abandon the quick-fix for permanent, strategic solutions. It's time we in the private sector insist on applying TQM principles to the schools.

The first step in meeting these combined crises of human resource development and competitiveness is for every one of us to adopt some very simple strategies. First, you can resolve to produce the best people you can in your own company. If you have a choice between spending for human capital and spending for capital equipment, the better investment is in your people. The second solution you can work at is transforming your workplace into a "learnplace." Our shops are not just places of business; they are educational institutions. And education is not something we can afford to do with our left hand; it has to be one of the reasons we are in business. Thirdly, help the schools. The simple, bottom-line business fact is, if the schools don't produce the kind of people manufacturing technology needs, we are going to have to do it ourselves. And with this problem, a dollar not spent today is not a dollar saved, it's two dollars you have to spend tomorrow. It's up to you to get out there in the schools and tell them what you need, then help them produce it.

And what is the significance of all this effort I'm asking you to make? For one thing, you will help the young people of this nation get better positioned to make a contribution to family, community, and their local economy. You will help them acquire the tools you need to be productive. For another, you help your own bottom line. It's an investment. And for another, you'll help your country. And it's time we all started thinking about that again.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:need for Total Quality Management in schools to increase competitiveness of US industries
Author:Wagner, Harold J.
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jul 1, 1992
Words:687
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