Perhaps it’s Time to Call a School Teacher: Dimon Tells CEOs

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s latest sweeping overview of the U.S. economy makes many demands on government, ranging from cutting onerous banking regulations and taxes to perhaps reining in spending on wars and keeping minor offenders out of prison.

Business leaders, too, can play a part in curing America of its ills, according to Dimon, who posits that while the country is an “exceptional” one, it’s “clear that something is wrong”.

Dimon reportedly turned down the role of Treasury Secretary in Donald Trump’s administration, though his annual letter to shareholders reads like the policy manifesto of any budding politician. In it, Dimon rails against the fact that real household wages have weakened in the past decade, while the middle class has shrunk as a proportion of the U.S. population.

As far as he’s concerned, the best thing CEOs can do to narrow the widening gap between rich and poor—and revive confidence in the institution of business—is take a proactive attitude to education and training. And that means they must literally go back to school.

“BUSINESSES NEED TO PARTNER WITH SCHOOLS TO LET THEM KNOW WHAT SKILLS ARE NEEDED, HELP DEVELOP THE APPROPRIATE CURRICULAR, HELP TRAIN TEACHERS AND BE PREPARED TO HIRE THE STUDENTS.”

“Businesses must be involved in this process,” Dimon wrote. “They need to partner with schools to let them know what skills are needed, help develop the appropriate curricula, help train teachers and be prepared to hire the students.”

It’s crucial such encounters are conducted at the local level, he said, because that’s where most of the jobs can be found.

Dimon sits on Trump’s economic advisory council and his advice chimes with the president’s call for more skills-based training during a summit last month with German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Like Trump, Dimon said America could learn a lot from Germany, where training programs have made the country’s youth unemployment rate the envy or Europe.

Around 1.5 million young people participate in German apprenticeship programs each year in paid positions that offer deep experience attaining unique skills. “The vocational schools and apprenticeship programs work directly with local businesses to ensure that students are connected to available jobs upon graduation,” Dimon said.

For any leaders wondering what type of schools to target, Dimon offers an example that’s close to home. For example, the Aviation High School in New York City isn’t far from where the banker grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens. As the name suggests, students there don’t study history, literature and biology. Instead, they are trained in all things aviation, from how to maintain an aircraft to understanding electronics and hydraulics systems.

Apparently, the school has a 97% attendance rate and graduates almost always get a job, often earning a starting salary of $60,000 a year.

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