Speaking in Cleveland Tuesday, Ohio Governor John Kasich addressed the GM Lordstown situation while using it as an example of the need for the education system to change to meet the needs of the jobs of the future.
“There were two institutions that I could never change,” said Kasich of his years in government. “Education and the Pentagon.”
“Lordstown, in some respects, not exactly, is sort of on the cutting-edge of the turbulence we will see in our economy because of the creation of new technologies,” Kasich said at the Cleveland City Club Tuesday.
“Here’s what I’m worried about: are the workers resilient? Can the workers figure out that there’s another opportunity in another place, and by the way, we’re going to explore all of that," Kasich said. "Can we get another car, can GM put something in that plant that may not be a car but may create very worthwhile economic activity, and if they're not, then sell the darn thing so we can do what we did in Dayton where we took the closed-down GM plant in Dayton and brought a Chinese company that now employs 2,400 people at salaries they never thought of at the GM plant."
Kasich said he asked GM CEO Mary Barra, and it was clear they were going in the direction of electric cars.
“Are we ready?” the governor asked. “Are we educating people who know how to be in the electric car business? Are we telling people who work in accounting that AI or machine learning’s going to come and you’re not going to have a job? What is the next job that’s coming?”
“There’s an opportunity for better jobs if people are resilient, if we think about the future, and if we educate our people, young people and education must be lifelong learning. If we don’t do that, that tsunami is going to come. The number one occupation in America today is driving. When we get autonomous vehicles, what are we going to do with those people? You think we’re angry now, just wait.”
“We can get ahead of this if we think ahead of it,” he said. “Our school system is not doing it and our higher education system ain’t working either.”
Kasich told the crowd they need to demand a fundamental change in the way these schools work and they have to take risks, “because if we don’t, we end up in the same place and we’re going to pay a price.”
It’s something he said he stressed in his conversation with GM CEO Mary Barra in working with JobsOhio.
“I said your people have to work with ours to come up with a solution. She said, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.' I said, 'Mary, you don’t understand what I’m saying, I don’t want lip service! Sometimes it hasn’t been always that easy to work with your folks, this is deadly serious now.' She said, 'I got it and thank you for telling me this and I guarantee you we’ll work with you.' So we’ll see what happens there,” Kasich said.