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Brock to Labor: Stress Brains--Not Brawn

October 06, 1987|Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Labor Secretary William E. Brock III rated the nation's work force today as good and improving but said American labor must substitute "brains for brawn" to stay competitive and prosperous in the 21st Century.

Brock delivered the grade and the suggestion in a speech billed as his first in a series of annual reports on the "State of the Workforce."

Speaking in the courtyard of Carpenter's Hall, home of the nation's first labor union, Brock said it wasn't enough that a record 115 million men and women are working in the United States.

"Smokestack America is giving way to computer America," he told about 100 labor and business leaders assembled as part of the city's Constitution bicentennial celebration. "In the current state of our work force there are more jobs, more workers, more challenges and more opportunities than at any time in our nation's history.

"The idea is to substitute brains for brawn, to produce more by making more intelligent use of people and machines. That is what competitiveness is all about."

To make the substitution successfully, Brock said, "education and training must become national priorities" because "the task is formidable and the time is short."

Brock proposed five goals to guarantee future competitiveness in the workplace:

--Boost overall productivity from the current average increase of 1.7% a year to 3%.

--Cut the school dropout rate by at least 10% per year over the next 10 years and increase education standards.

--Cut minority unemployment by at least 50% over the next decade.

--Work harder to cut the number of job-related injuries to workers.

--Create an "idea bank" with new approaches to labor relations that emphasize cooperation and employee participation.

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