(Looking Back and Looking Forward takes look at the articles and posts I found interesting from the previous week, along with reflections about how the trends they point to might shape my thinking about education and technology.)
I’m relatively certain that we are beginning to see evidence of an inevitable evolution of higher education in the U.S. This is an evolution that will bring traditional undergraduate education more in line with the actual needs of both students and employers.
As an example, consider the latest reports on the decline in students pursuing two-year associate degrees at public colleges compared to the increase in students enrolling in non-degree certificate programs. And keep in mind that Maryland isn’t the only entity realizing that the four-year degree is not necessarily an accurate indicator of job readiness for many positions.
Employers hold three things at a high premium: (1) having the necessary skills to perform the tasks required by a job role and to get up to speed quickly; (2) having the foundational/durable skills (essential, thinking, and professional) to perform well within teams and with customers, and; (3) having a history of reliable work performance.
And, while there are industries and jobs that require profession-specific four-year degrees and expertise in certain domains (Accounting, Finance, Engineering), a significant percentage of jobs, and well-paying jobs, do not. This means that candidates for those positions need:
- Domain-specific skills training with demonstrable evidence of mastery so that employers can verify that the candidate is ready to be productive from Day 1;
- Foundational/durable skills training with demonstrable evidence of mastery to ensure that employees can perform well within an organization and grow into the future.
There is a sizeable demand for both of these requirements from both employers and job seekers. In addition, there is a good supply pipeline (and growing) for domain-specific skills. What we still lack is the integration of foundational/durable skills into the curriculum (traditional higher education or vocational training).
Education, Learning Design, and Technology
Technology and Technology Trends