Listen to the ~3 minute broadcast here: NPR clip
Here’s what manufacturers want when they say “We need people with math skills” :
North American Tool’s Jim Hoyt: “I’ll write a few numbers down, mostly numbers with decimal points, because that’s what we use in manufacturing, and have them add, subtract or divide by two”
“And often they can’t do it. Having basic math knowledge, especially of decimals, is important because of the precise inputs of modern CNC machines.”- NPR reporter.
The inability to add, subtract, and divide decimals is keeping a lot of people unemployed, and a lot of advanced manufacturing jobs unfilled.
What is sad is that the student that NPR quotes at the end of their interview as having been successfully trained in math is unconvincing that the math skills problem is anywhere near solved: in fact, he remains proof of the lack of math understanding we face as employers.
He is clearly confused, and doesn’t seem to understand the values of the numbers he is speaking about.
If “the vernier caliper reads to a hundred thousandths of an inch (0.100″) ,” how can he be reading in ten thousandths of an inch (0.0001″) as he tells the reporter?
A vernier caliper, regardless of 50 line or 25 line type can read to thousandths (0.001″) not ten thousandths (0.0001″).
“…some of these parts are small- as small as 10 thousandths. If you don’t know what 10 thousandths of an inch is, just take a strand of your hair and that’s like twenty or thirty thousandths of an inch.”
Really? Doesn’t he actually mean twenty or thirty ten-thousandths?
A human hair is on average 0.0039″, read 3.9 thousandths of an inch. Not 25 or 30 thousandths.
(Actually its about 100 µm but I’ll not start down that path…)
So how does 0.0039″ come out to the “25 or 30 thousandths of an inch” claimed by the student?Maybe he meant 25 or thirty ten-thousandths 0.0025-0.0030″.
But that is not what he said.
Thirty thousandths is 0.030 in. – that is off by a factor of at least ten. Unless he meant 30 ten-thousandths.
How would you like to have an error of a factor of ten on say the fuel injector on your car, or the nozzle that delivers your medicine or portion controls your food or drink or that deploys your air bag in the event of a crash?
Our industry makes critical human safety medical parts, brake and airbag parts for automobiles, as well as parts for numerous aerospace and munitions and food service applications.
We need people who don’t confuse 0.003″ to be 0.030.” It’s kind of important.
Thanks to NPR for showing just how pervasive the math skills problem really is- even after “bridge training,” they still don’t get it.
Now you know the problem that manufacturers are facing.
NPR has just given you the proof.
And why doesn’t anyone ever ask, “Why aren’t the high schools held accountable for the fact that their graduates can’t do the math?”
Click here for the NPR clip