Business leaders and educators met Friday to design the perfect job applicant: a person with a strong work ethic who would be loyal, dependable and responsible.
The perfect hire also would know the basics -- math, reading and writing -- and at the same time have a solid grasp of technology.
About 20 business people and school officials attended the morning meeting of the Business-Education Task Force, which was established several years ago to encourage the school system to produce students who meet workplace standards, said Harford schools spokesman Don Morrison.
Bobby G. Edmondson, a manager for Bell Atlantic Corp., said he wished more teachers would visit businesses to see what skills companies need. "We should be talking to teachers face-to-face," he said.
Mr. Morrison said the school system, which has about 36,000 students, is attempting to meet the work force's needs.
For example, he said, the school system has hundreds of partnerships with local businesses: a business might donate computers or other materials, and a scientist at Aberdeen Proving Ground might teach a high school course.
Some business people at the meeting worried that students were not getting a "positive" message about themselves.
"Most of the teen-agers are coming into the work force with a negative attitude. They've been told they're too dumb or that they can't accomplish things," said N. K. "Skip" Moulsdale, owner of Moulsdale Associates Inc., a commercial finance company in Abingdon.
Donald Kerr, vice president of Forest Hill Bank and the new chairman of the task force, said the perfect employee isn't produced overnight.
He said the group will have a list of recommendations for the school system at its May meeting.
"We all have a stake in the future of our students, as parents, as a school system and as a business," Mr. Kerr said.