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  • Matthew Hora

Working on a book about the skills gap

It's a beautiful fall day here in Madison, WI and I've sequestered myself at home (and on the back deck) to work on a book. Writing a book takes a heap of discipline and time - two things that have been in short supply lately. The book is intended to be an accessible tome about a 3-year long research study on the "skills gap" in Wisconsin, which involved me and my colleagues Ross and Amanda touring the state and hanging out in factories, research labs, tech college and university classrooms, and administrator's offices talking about the wide-ranging topics that are implicated in the notion of a skills gap.

To name but a few: the purpose of higher education, what's wrong with today's kids and why don't they want to work?, how robotics are changing the workplace, the failure (or success) of liberal arts education, and how can we get kids to stay in Wisconsin? Given topics such as these, which came up repeatedly in conversations with 147 educators and employers, wrapping our heads around a book is quite the task, not to mention a coherent research paper and presentation.

In any case, while the book isn't ready for prime time, and any papers won't see the light of day for months (maybe years given how the publication process drags on in social science in general, and education in particular) I'll be giving a presentation on Monday that amounts to a release of our main findings. It's pretty exciting to start getting the word out about what we found, because it's been a long time coming and the culmination of many hundreds of hours of analysis and heavy thinking.

Given the crowded marketplace of ideas out there we'll see if these findings find an audience, especially given the lack of a savvy Twitter presence in my backpocket, but I have a hunch that by giving voice to business-owners we'll be able to find some curious ears in the current political climate of Wisconsin.

In the meantime, I'm going to ignore college football and La Liga games, and get back to listening to Barton Hall 1977 concerts outside with a nice IPA, working on Chapter 2!

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