The labor market in Atlanta has changed dramatically. In my line of work, prior to the Great Recession, it used to be we employed a lot of immigrant Americans. Lately, we have been hiring many native born Americans. Simultaneously, I have seen the quality of the candidate pool fall off significantly. This has been a learning experience on many levels, but probably the largest for me is the real impact of quality of education, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Much of the work we do does not require a high school education. It is very demanding, and requires many things, but for many positions, graduating high school isn’t a requirement. Interestingly, in the past, I have not given this much consideration. However, lately I have noticed a correlation between the lack of finishing high school, or having a low quality high school education, and what amounts to a virtual learning disability.
This is not a scientific study. This is simply my own observation. There is clearly not a direct causation, whereas many of our employees came from backgrounds of little, to virtually zero, formal education, however we did not encounter the problems we are experiencing now.
Inability to follow multi-step instructions. Lack of recognition between cause and effect. Shifting of personal responsibility. Lack of carry-over of experience to correlated, though not duplicate, scenarios. Inability to see implications of basic life decisions. Failure to correlate those decisions to current life circumstances. Trouble showing for work on time. Tendency to shift blame for repeated tardiness. Problems learning new basic job skills and responsibilities.
All issues you would expect to find in individuals with developmental learning disabilities.
In the past, I never really found these to be significant issues, and if they were, they were isolated experiences. Now, it seems that a huge proportion of candidates struggle with some or many of these issues. These issues seem to correlate strongest with native born candidates and low quality high school education. Either failure to complete high school, or graduating from low-quality schools and low-quality systems.
I can’t say definitively what the cause is. It could be the labor pool in general, across the board. We have seen a drop in quality candidates in general. It could be the lack of quality high school education, has ill-prepared these people for life so significantly, that well into adulthood, they are unable to compensate. It could be that these people had existing learning, developmental, social issues that are similarly reflected in their inability to succeed in high school.
I can say that anecdotally, for Americans, the effect of low-quality high school education is tantamount to having a developmental learning disability.