Workforce Development Training versus Liberal Arts Degrees: Tom Eblen Challenges the Governer of Kentucky

In this article on, the author makes the case for a liberal arts education in additional to technical workforce development. It’s a very interesting read. There’s a lot of pressure on states to show increased employment and it’s understandable that leaders want to focus on things that move the needle right away. But Tom Eblen makes a good case for taking the long-view as well.

Tom Eblen: Higher education is more than just ‘workforce development’ | Lexington Herald-Leader



Like many businessmen who become governors, Gov. Matt Bevin seems more interested in “workforce development” than higher education. Still, his gratuitous slap at investing state resources in “French literature majors” was troubling.


It was more than an ignorant remark by an intelligent, educated man who should know better. It was another example of an anti-intellectual streak in Kentucky politics that has always limited this state’s potential for success.


But even if Bevin believes the state’s investments should focus on “practical” education to produce specific economic results, his approach is still short-sighted. The global economy is increasingly driven by creativity and innovation. Knowledge of the humanities, language, culture and the arts has never been more important.


As the late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, once said: “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”


If Kentuckians want to be leaders and innovators in the 21st century economy — and not just the technicians who implement other people’s ideas — we must invest more public money in higher education that goes well beyond “workforce development.”


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