Every election, and political discussion in between, yields the topic of jobs; job creation, availability, and access. But, nowhere in the conversation is job readiness and preparation. People can easily get by on the promise of “bringing jobs” to the community, but what happen when those who need them most are not prepared? Nothing.

Bringing jobs already filled, as well as those which require an elevated skill set continue to elude those who have come through a failed school system or who have fallen off the beaten path somewhere along the way.  Many of those who have a history of unemployment are saddled with a severe lack of basic job readiness, which limits their ability to be considered for anything beyond manual labor or basic service roles, if even that.

Rather than continuing to cite “jobs” as demanded by some and touted by others, the conversation must lend itself to viable and available resources to help those who are undereducated and chronically unemployable.  This isn’t a political or party-specific challenge or conversation; it’s a people one.

While working to address and assist those who don’t know or have never been taught the basics principles of employment—dress, timeliness, the dos and don’ts of interviewing, and basic social and professional etiquette—this amended discussion is also a call-to-action for those in the pipeline to get it together before they end up in the seemingly endless pool of unemployment.  After all, I don’t think we talk enough about the connectivity between preparation and success.

Talking more about dollars to schools than personal commitment to education is also misleading. The best looking schools and materials mean nothing without the proper attitude and engagement. We also need to present skilled trades as an option; a respectable and well paying one, I might add.

I can only assume that those who could and should be regularly leading this public discussion won’t do so for fear of insulting or losing their support base, political or otherwise. But, without doing so they will constantly be delivering broken dreams and unrealistic promises; and providing a social service net to those who otherwise fell through the cracks these “leaders” are refusing the help properly fill.

This isn’t to say that everyone is capable of realizing the same goal, or that there will never be a segment of society that will require—and should receive—social service support. But, there are many who would benefit greatly from a realistic challenge on the front end as well as those who need supplemental support on the back end. Promising jobs for which they are unqualified to fill is neither realistic nor helpful.

As it relates to job preparation and readiness, it is way past time to change the conversation.