As basic as 2+2 = 4

"People don't walk around with the memory of a cylinder formula in their head," writes a reader and he's right. He raises a question about what constitutes basic knowledge that we all should bring with us to the job, and for that matter, life.  And, conversely, what does an employer owe in terms of training?

The same question occurred to me last week as I researched the concept of shop math for a story that appeared in Sunday's Inquirer. (You can click here to read it and here to try your hand at shop math.) I had been intrigued when I met so many manufacturers who complained that job applicants couldn't handle simple math skills, let alone the more complex operations that are part of advanced manufacturing.

That's math. For example, is the Microsoft Office Suite of programs (Word, Excel, Power Point) now so ubiquitous that it should be part of our every day treasure chest of skills, if we plan to work in an office? Wouldn't using a ruler be just part of common knowledge? What about standard grammar? What about forms of manual dexterity? Can you readily manipulate a screw driver, for example? Is the ability to handle email and a simple Google search a basic skill? 

What do you think are the basics?