Why is this lesson so hard to learn? Education should be linked to job market

Henry Ford paid workers on his newfangled assembly line $5 a day. That was a lot of money back then. And the pattern he set – good pay for working on the line for folks without many skills – built the middle class in America and paved the way for widespread prosperity for nearly a century.

That’s mostly over.

There are lots of reasons. Many U.S. factory jobs got shipped overseas where, for example, workers in China earned in a year about what an American made in a week. Enormous gains in manufacturing productivity meant the number of workers required to run a plant at full tilt tumbled. And the skills required to hold down a job on the line – running and maintaining a robot, for example – meant a guy with only a high school degree couldn’t hack it.

Result: high and persistent unemployment, not just the result of the Great Recession but the consequence of a profound change in the skills-wages value proposition that underlay much of the economy in the 20th century.

OK. Most of us know this to one degree or another.

But what is striking is the persistent inability of our labor markets to relate the skills output of the human capital industry (schools, high schools, community colleges, universities) to the actual skills demand of the job market.

Every Michigan governor I’ve known going back to Bill Milliken has complained about this. And all of them have been frustrated at the lack of progress.

It’s easy to blame the schools for much of the problem. But how are the schools going to predict the skills needs of the job market 15 years out? The Germans have a highly developed system of apprenticeships for kids still in school to learn what they need to know to get a good job. But except for some parts of the building trades industry, we’ve got very little in this country.

So it was good to see the emphasis in last week’s Governor’s Education Summit conference, held in East Lansing. Governor Rick Snyder argued Michigan could lead the nation in economic growth if only we properly connected education and careers. “I think we have a disconnected situation in our economy in terms of making sure people are career connected,” he said.

Snyder pointed to how important a college degree is in today’s economy: “If you’re an engineer in Michigan today, you can get a job very easily.” But he also pointed that not everyone needs a BA to get a good job.

“We messed up because we didn’t equally emphasize the skilled trades,” he said.

But part of the mess-up can be laid squarely at the myopia of both schools and colleges. Tell me, if you can, just how many career counselors are left in our high schools, folks who can advise kids what kind of skills they need to get good jobs and how to go about getting those skills? The last number I saw was one counselor for every 600 students.

The universities are equally at fault. Career choices, they loudly claim, are no business of theirs. So they keep hands off the kid who wants to get a degree in French literature and discovers after graduation (with a ton of student debt) that there aren’t many jobs out there … and whatever jobs there are don’t pay squat.

What makes this an urgent problem and not just an aggravation is the rapidly growing tidal wave of student debt. My sense is that many college-age students are starting to get it: You’ve got to get a degree to get a good job. But without thoughtful career counseling from the get-go, young people are going to leave college with a lot of debt riding on a diploma that has little relationship to the needs of employers.

The critical thing in all this discussion is the fundamental lesson of economics: Connecting supply (of entrants to the labor market) with demand (of employers for relevant skills). Until that gets done, we’re condemned to have conferences on education that talk the good talk without, however, getting much done.

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Comments

Michele Strasz
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 8:45am
As a mom with two sons in college, one in Engineering and one in History, I have some personal experience with your argument about designing school to fit the job market. With all things in life we must find a balance. Designing school for the jobs of today only is limiting us to today. What we need is students who can first and foremost read. Students must also be well rounded, understand how to work in teams, and communicate well verbally and in writing. My son in Engineering goes to Kettering University in Flint, one of the premiere coop engineering programs in the country where they alternate every twelve weeks between work and school. It has been a tremendous learning experience for him as he connects the classroom learning to the work place. However, his high school did not adequately prepare him for the higher level math and science he would need despite being in AP and honors classes resulting in having to take Calc a couple of times in college. On the flip side, my History major is thriving because he learned how to read, write, and think critically. He is studying what he loves. While there may not be a lot of jobs in History it is important for us to know, understand, and learn about History to see the connections between our current experience and the past to both avoid the mistakes and build off the foundation of the past. We need schools that are nimble, understand the learning needs and styles of children at each age and stage of their life, and partnerships with the employers of the community to create hands on learning experiences to tie the lessons of work and school together.
Javan Kienzle
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 9:19am
Perhaps we should change the terminology to differentiate between an education and a career-connected trade. Internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training focus on job attainment. Obviously, a degree in itself does not necessarily lead to being hired in one's field of interest or even expertise. Can we not both train in technical fields AND educate? How many of today's university grads are "educated" in a literate or philosophical sense? Granted, they have degrees, but does the acquisition of a degree in itself prove that they are "educated"? Too many degrees have become debased and too many grads do not know history, geography, biology, or civics, nor can they construct a grammatically correct sentence. They haven't gone to school to learn, or for the love of learning; they have gone to school to acquire the wherewithal to get a job. Nothing wrong with that -- but just let's not say they've gotten an education; they've merely gotten a passport to employment.
David Waymire
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 9:37am
A few numbers, from Pew Research this year: Among 25-32 year olds (just out of college) BS more more: Income, $45,500. U rate: 3.8% Living in poverty: 5.8% 2 year degree, some college: Income $30,000. U rate: 8.1% Living in poverty 14.7% HS grad: Income $28,000 U rate: 12.2% Living in poverty: 21.8% The data seems clear. A 4 year degree is the ticket.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 4:03pm
David, I just had a hunch that it might interesting to take a closer look at your numbers from PEW. That 3.8% unemployment just did not sound right to my ear. Your numbers do agree with PEW. It seems they also agree with BLS numbers on the same subject. Is there any reason for me to be suspect? Here is a clip from an Associated Press article on Yahoo. 'WASHINGTON (AP) — The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work. A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge. Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans. So I took a thoughtful look at the BLS numbers. They say 4 year college grads have a 73 participation rate. To me that means, 27 percent are Not-Employed. I would guess the 3.8 number comes from the small group of people that are still receiving unemployment. Do you agree with my 27 percent Not-Employed number? This would be 27% of all people beyond a 4-year degree are not currently working. I don't wish to be disputive. I just think that 3.8%number has a limited meaning in a larger context.
Rick
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 10:02am
Phil - are you telling us we should turn our colleges and universities into vocational schools? I'd like a clarification if that isn't what you're saying. I know a number of people who studied computer science and programming yet find themselves competing, largely unsuccessfully, with HB-1 visa folks who will work for way less and work much longer hours (they can't leave the job or complain since their visa is tied to that job). Phil - do you feel this is a good thing? Could you tell us what you think should be done?
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 10:50am
I agree with the comments immediately above. My colleagues from The Henry Ford, Henry Ford Academy, Henry Ford Learning Institute, and Loyola High School in Detroit, and I argued in our recent presentation at the Governor's Education Summit that the ultimate goal of education is the development of human potential and talent. That is a broader objective than simply filling currently available positions within within the established business, professional or skilled trades sectors. It's not simply a matter of supply and demand. To ignore that broader education mission is to ignore the fact that much of the economic revitalization taking place today, especially in our urban centers, comes from the exercise of innovative and entrepreneurial effort. Members of this talent base are creating their own jobs and enterprises, not simply filling the workforce needs of others. We do need welders and electricians as well as doctors and computer scientists. But we also need wise policy makers and effective advocates for life-long learning opportunities for everyone.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Fri, 05/02/2014 - 8:52am
George, Back in 1999 someone in Maryland, asked me about 'a true goal' for education. So I decided to write one. Here is what I wrote back then: The True Goal of Education is: "To preserve the Intelligence, Creativity and Initiative of the Individual while increasing the Social, Moral and Cultural level of Society." Would you mind comparing my goal to your goal, from The Governor’s Education Summit? 'The ultimate goal of education is: the development of human potential and talent.' I hope you will notice that education should never decrease the intelligence, creativity and initiative of the individual. This idea comes from the book, 'The Wealth of Nations' by Adam Smith 1776, page 1. Those three key factors are what individuals use to create the wealth of any nation. I think they could do the same for Michigan. The world of Education should know this principle well, and hold it close to their hearts and souls. I define goal as: a long range objective one intends to achieve. For example: If a school taught a student, an individual, to believe the knowledge he already has (this is an attitude confirmed on each testing event.) is sufficient for life-long learning, then what attitude will this individual bring to the job market, where he will then be exposed to the new knowledge and skills unique to the work place? I believe this is the primary educational barrier a new employee will face in his entire career in the job market. How can he learn new skills in the work place? How can he be expected to learn new knowledge easily if he considers he already knows it all? Based on over 40 years of using such learning technology, I as a hiring-manager, instituted a remedy to be used on the first day of work, for all new-hires under my responsibility, to resolve this exact attitude. I believe it should be well known to education in Michigan, and placed early in the K-12 experience of each individual. My goal obviously has many more implications for success in Michigan. Please discuss with your friends at Henry Ford and Loyola. I would appreciate. Leon
nana63
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:07am
career education was tried in the 90's-called "school to work". some people said it copied the Russian system of education and would lead to the same results. so, if the non-scholars are not worthy of an appropriate education, then they have no skills to contribute to sustaining the society in which they were not educated. ijs
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 4:34pm
I am not sure I understand what you are saying. I was involved with School To Work in the 90's and what we were doing seems to have nothing to with Russian education or what you are talking about. Is it possible you have a misunderstanding about it? At that time I wrote and developed a set of Standards, meant as recommendations from the World of Work, in America, to Public Education, in America. They contained some basic ideas for students. These ideas could be used by students to learn better. What things had people in the world learned that could be handed down to the new folks to help them out? It was felt that students may have learned things and had either forgotten them on their way to work, or could not apply them in the world of work. How could this be corrected? One way would be to have more tools, earlier in life, to learn things quickly. One might be able to read something and apply it right away. One might demonstrate what he had just learned. One might learn to do tasks more quickly. That is, the tasks one actually uses at work. If you would like to discuss, I will check back.
Chris Campbell
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 11:48am
My father used to tell me about his undergraduate experience at U-M. He was in pre-med and had a prescribed curriculum of science courses, including the feared organic chemistry. He got into medical school and thrived, and practiced medicine with skill, compassion, and enthusiasm for many years. But what he cherished from his U-M years were courses in ornithology, prompting an interest that lasted throughout his life, and music, which also served him for a lifetime. I would hear these stories and privately roll my eyes. But now I can look back and see that the courses that have most influenced my life were not ones that provided any career skills at all (unless you understand that there are career values in undertsanding and enjoying the world around you). If we measure education solely by career enhancement, we miss a large part of what education is about. It's nearly impossible to train students for specific jobs that may--or also may not--exist 20 or so years out, or even after graduation. We ought to be providing training in learning, in having a basis for understanding new things and learning new skills. This involves literacy, a broad foundation of knowledge, and experience with acquiring new knowledge efficiently. And it also involves finding some method for relieving the debt burden that we now transfer to students, leaving them unable to veer from an immediately-remunerative career path. Chris Campbell
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 4:41pm
Chris, Nicely written. I agree wholeheartedly. I have commented liberally here on Bridge on education articles, you might want to check some of them out. I have written a set of standards, intended as suggestions from industry to public schools, that seem to fit well with you are saying. 'We ought to be providing training in learning, in having a basis for understanding new things and learning new skills. This involves literacy, a broad foundation of knowledge, and experience with acquiring new knowledge efficiently.' Best regards, Leon
Michael Powers
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 1:50pm
We do not use the tools that are in place to match the current students to the job markets. Every junior must take the Michigan Merit Exam. This consists of 3 days of testing: ACT is first day, WorkKeys are the second, and Michigan Math, Science, and Social Studies are the third day. WorkKeys is an assessment to measure if a student is prepared for the labor market. The 3 tests of Locating Information, Reading for Information, and Applied Math measure a students job readiness. A certain score on these 3 tests will give the students a Career Readiness Certificate. Business and Industry leaders who hire students to the job force should ask students for the CRC to see if their prepared for their job. In addition, their are also trained people who will profile a workplace to tell exactly what skills are needed by the workers (students) for a particular job in that industry. The problem, no businesses or industry who hire workers use the workKeys system we have in place. Again, all talk, and no action. I have been a teacher for 33 years, the frustration continues to grow. We have a very good system in place (workKeys) and we do not use the system. We need to use this system soon or this to will fall to that old education saying: "This Too Will Pass"
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 5:40pm
Michael, I really appreciate that you wrote this comment. I hope Bridge will make be making things a little more interactive to help out such an effort between education and the job market. It is badly needed. I am on the job market side. I have been a hiring manager or consultant during those same 33 years, and more. But at the level of hiring BS degrees and above. What single question do you think nearly every new hire asks me on their first day of work, in the job market? 'We do not use the tools that are in place to match the current students to the job markets.' What do you think we use when we hire someone? Do you think such 'tools' measure what employees do when they do productive work? 'Every junior must take the Michigan Merit Exam. This consists of 3 days of testing: ACT is first day, WorkKeys are the second, and Michigan Math, Science, and Social Studies are the third day.' Does the ACT measure what is needed in the job markets, or what ACT feels is needed for college work? Do you feel these Math, Science and Social Studies tests adequately measure a students ability to apply such material in the workplace easily? 'WorkKeys is an assessment to measure if a student is prepared for the labor market. The 3 tests of Locating Information, Reading for Information, and Applied Math measure a students job readiness.' WorkKeys is something new for me. I have never seen it. I don't think this applies for college grads. Do you think it really measures 'job readiness' at the high school graduate level? Would a CRC really certify that this student has a high-school, 12th grade Reading Level and 12th grade Math level? 'A certain score on these 3 tests will give the students a Career Readiness Certificate. Business and Industry leaders who hire students to the job force should ask students for the CRC to see if their prepared for their job.' About half of HS grads go on to college instead of work. About 30% drop out. How many people actually get this CRC, and move on to the workforce? 'In addition, their are also trained people who will profile a workplace to tell exactly what skills are needed by the workers (students) for a particular job in that industry.' Who are these people? I would love to talk with them. 'The problem, no businesses or industry who hire workers use the workKeys system we have in place. Again, all talk, and no action. I have been a teacher for 33 years, the frustration continues to grow. We have a very good system in place (workKeys) and we do not use the system. We need to use this system soon or this to will fall to that old education saying: “This Too Will Pass” My frustration is that schools do not seem to want to communicate with the job market. They do not seem receptive to what is needed and wanted by the job market, and do not seem to express any interest in supplying such things. One school board president said to me, 'Leon, you can talk till you are blue-in-the-face. But if no one is listening, what good is it going to do?' Now that was her personal view of course, but is that view more general? When I worked with School To Work people long ago, I wrote 10 standards, suggestions that students could use to learn better and faster, using proven methods from the job market. STW said it was the first written standards, suggestions, from industry to schools they had ever seen. They funded my proposal, but the funds were from industry, their 25,000 students were from public schools. They only asked that I provide the students, my own students. I'll be checking back if you wish to discuss.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Tue, 05/06/2014 - 11:48am
Phil, The answer is too simple. It is simple, if we look at the problem from the viewpoint of the student. Or let's say, the individual. You frame your question as 'a Lesson.' So I will frame the answer in that same way. Suppose there are two Lessons to be learned here. A First Lesson must be learned first, before the second lesson can be started. So if the First is unknown, then the second can never be started and never be learned. A problem in education can go on and on, from governor to governor, generation to generation, unsolved. Here is an Example of snatching victory from defeat with one idea from this first Lesson. Maybe Michigan can do the same. But first, I am a Professional Engineer, not a teacher. So when I do substitute teaching, I do not teach from the viewpoint of a teacher, I teach from the viewpoint of the student. What viewpoint, what knowledge, and what skills from that viewpoint, solves the teaching situation before me? My example, is a tenth-grade boy in a local high school where I taught as a substitute teacher. In this class, a boy had some special needs. His regular teacher has assigned some second-grade addition exercises for him to do. There were only four students in this class, and I assumed he was not at grade level. I had given him his work to do per the Lesson Plan from his teacher. When I was working with another student this boy said, to a friend, 'I Hate Reading!' I had planned to help him with his Math when I could get to him for personal attention, but I felt Reading comes before Math, so I will help him with his Reading, with a lesson that must be learned first. And then take up the Math. I rather accidentally solved your question for this one boy. I asked him to set aside his Math for now, and write on the board, three ways he could use Reading in his life. My thought was to get his purpose for reading clearly in his mind and then we could go from there. I guessed his friend would be right in there again, so I added, "Now I know someone may tell you something to get me off your back, but I want these answers to be from your heart, your soul, from YOU. And I emphasized 'you'. He went to work. You could see the wheels turn, he was engaged. His friend came up to intervene, but he took my advice, and said, 'No. No! NO! I want to work this out myself.' He seemed to be in a little agony, and was really doing some heavy thoughtful work. Finally, it was like an electric shock went through his body. He bent over and slapped his head. It was a 'Eureka moment', like Archimedes. He cried out, 'I could get a Job!!!', 'I could get a Job!' He was all smiles and exhilarated. I let him have his moment. But here in a quiet little classroom, near Fife Lake Michigan, he had done just what your article is all about. He had connected his education to the job market. He had learned, in part, what I will call The First Lesson. What if another part of the First Lesson was where he learned to connect what he was learning, each thing he was learning, to what he will be doing? That would be important too, wouldn't it? Then when he works, he would have have what he had learned in sort of a tool box. Shall we take up the rest of The First Lesson?
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 4:20pm
I am a proud fourth generation educator. I agree that education should be linked to the job market and apprenticeship. We have a new blended virtual education certification inexpensive program in NanoTech, CyberSecurity and Project management. Our virtual institute prepare students PK-Post College in STEM careers.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 6:12pm
Catherine, I have a question for you, possibly, sort of a challenge. I am from the job market side, and wish to pose a set of demonstrations, let me explain. I have proposed some suggestions for schools, and one of them has to do with mass, or the heaviness we feel in things. I believe there is a balance that one must understand when learning things. If one has too little mass when studying or considering heavy things, then that would be bad. How bad? Now since you are from the 'virtual' world, the virtual part of education, where photons have little mass, this may be fun for you. The first idea is that a person may have observable physiological symptoms, or distress, when he studies many things. He may feel bent, twisted, sick, tired and hold his head with a hand or both hands, he may feel squashed, and have other sensations. A simple remedy is to just have the person demonstrate what he is learning with some actual objects, not virtual objects or words. He could draw a picture, or make a model in clay. An effective remedy will brighten up the student very quickly. So demonstration Number 1: have a student, any student, studying on your equipment, that is observed to have such symptoms, stop, and do a demonstration with actual objects, or small objects, or make a physical drawing or a clay representation of what they have been learning about to see if you observe this happening. Obviously, if the symptoms are happening, and you can instantly correct these symptoms, that would be good for you and virtual training. Isn't that true? The second part of this is a bit tougher. If the student is having difficulty with learning a virtual thing, or understanding something. Have him do a series of physical demonstrations of it. My idea is to start with a simplified representation, then include more and more mass, more and more complexity, more demonstrations until he has a full grasp of it all. Let him work it a little, and ponder things a little without pressure. Let him work it out. He should brighten up. He should realize things he did not, or could not, before. Let me know. I will check back. I'll ask for forgiveness now from Phil, in the event I stepped on any toes here. - Leon
Mon, 05/05/2014 - 10:45am
As a former philosophy professor who used to (successfully) teach formal mathematical logic and an array of other challenging philosophy courses to art students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I can attest to people's willingness and desire to expand their understanding, even when they cannot at that moment imagine its potential practical consequence. We become more fit when we exercise our bodies. We become more fit when we exercise our minds.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Tue, 05/06/2014 - 4:30pm
George, I understand philosophy comes about when someone has been prosperous enough so there is a little time to contemplate. Teaching philosophy to plumbers makes perfect sense to me. But what I'm about, is seeing people learn well enough to be prosperous and have a little a time to contemplate. Is there room in the world, your world, for these two views of things to co-exist?
Duane
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 9:42pm
Mr. Power’s return to his podium has him back to looking for fault and placing blame. If Mr. Power weren’t mired in the conventional wisdom of the past and working so hard to perpetuate it he would be trying to encourage innovative ideas, trying to encourage people to try new ways, he would recognize that we are in a changing world and the solutions have to be dynamic to be part of change and not be barriers to innovation. If Mr. Power were asking about how can we create a process of education that will be adaptive to the future, that will prepare students learn on their own and adapt, that will facilitate the collaboration of industry with Michigan’s education, he would be opening people up to new ideas and approaches. With his complaints how messed up things are, he is simply focusing on the present and the past and discourages innovation. The world is changing and Mr. Power just doesn’t seem to understand that finding fault and placing blame are about where we are and is ignoring change, is holding on to the past. We have to be looking to approaches that make change an integral part of the how we educate. We should be asking those who are being successful at adapting and succeeding in the changing world how and why they are succeeding, and how they think the system needs to focus so it will be adaptive. Mr. Power might be surprised that those companies and individuals who are succeeding are asking questions and listening to the answers rather then looking for fault and to place blame.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Sun, 05/04/2014 - 9:52pm
Duane, You are looking to the future. How would you answer Mr. Power's question. I know it may have been rhetorical, but all the same, is the answer all that difficult? 'But how are the schools going to predict the skills needs of the job market 15 years out?' One commenter seems to say, the ACT WorkKeys are the answer. A student gets a CRC certificate and that may be enough? What do you think? Leon
Mike R
Tue, 05/06/2014 - 11:09am
Leon, you are wasting your time with Duane; he never has anything constructive to say and simply picks at what Phil writes.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Tue, 05/06/2014 - 4:18pm
Mike R May 6, 2014 at 11:09 am Hi Mike. Thanks for the head's up.
Duane
Thu, 05/08/2014 - 7:50pm
Mike, I appreciate you point about picking. I wonder is it about his writing or is it about what he could address or how he might look at something differently or how he might think about an issue from a different perspective. I learned how much more impact and value could be contribnuted when one tries to approach an issue from a questioning perspective rather then ones established perspective. Sometimes a person can become too confortable with ones approach or way of thinking and they see every issue just one way. That can stifle a person's creativity. When an issue is being looked at in the same way and the attempts to address it are the same as before the likelyhood of changing the results are almost nil. Sometimes being challenge can break one out of old habits of thinking. I have not had a conversation with Mr. Power so I don't know how he reacts to my comments, so you could be right. To test what I am saying, offer me and issue and you answer to it an I will offer a different prespective. As an example what is you view on the minimum wage or if it should be raised and I will offer a perspective and you tell me if it is a different approach and one you hadn't considered.
Duane
Thu, 05/08/2014 - 1:21am
Leon, There are a myriad of reasons, it comes down to three catagories; the individual, the schools, the dynamics of the marketplace. The students don't enough to know what job they want so special emphasis programs maybe ingored. The school structure is not design for looking outside, for quickly building new courses and for surveying what are the learning needs, they are too slow to adapt to the new student and the new workplace demands and practices, they don't know how to listen to what people/business is saying or see what they are doing. The workplace is changing so fast in technology and worker expectations that to stay current is a full time commitment in the workplace. If a person isn't in the workplace participating they will not reconize the changes. The fundamental problem is people such as Mr. Power are so focused on the results they want they are unable to ask about the responsibilities of the potential employees. An example is the lack of work ethic a significant number of graduating students lack. In none of the ideas for what education needs to do is there ever any consideration of the responsibilities each student has. As well intended Mr. Power and other people are if they never address the potential employee's role/responsibities there will never be any broad or lasting success. know how to listen
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 05/08/2014 - 2:54pm
Duane May 8, 2014 at 1:21 am Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Your reply was not negative, or too picky. Maybe Mike R might wish to take another look. 'There are a myriad of reasons, it comes down to three categories; the individual, the schools, the dynamics of the marketplace.' 'The students don’t know enough to know what job they want, so special emphasis programs may be ignored.' I disagree. I believe each student, deep down, knows what they want to do in life. In school, I expect the primary wishes of the individual are placed, valued by the teacher and school, well below those of the teacher, the teacher union and the school. In my view, this basically goes back to the definition of a 'tyrant' and the 'free' individual. The tyrant places his ambitions above those of the free individual, and all individuals. Tyranny has been the prevailing mind-set all down through history, except for a very few isolated times. Athens under the Golden Age of Pericles, or from 490 to 330 BC, America from 1776 to? But there have have been 'free' people in all times. It is inherent in everyone. The 'free' may place the ambitions of others above their own, but they never, deep down, lose their personal ambitions. Call this the soul of the person, while they are on earth, if you like. The 'free' act freely. This applies to everyone! Special emphasis programs may attract the attention of freely thinking people. 'The school structure is not designed for looking outside, for quickly building new courses, and for surveying what are the learning needs. They are too slow to adapt to the new student and the new workplace demands and practices. They don’t know how to listen to what people/business is saying or see what they are doing.' I'll leave that to an educator to argue, I can not. 'The workplace is changing so fast in technology and worker expectations that to stay current is a full time commitment in the workplace. If a person isn’t in the workplace participating they will not recognize the changes.' That sounds like a fast moving target. Even if schools were motivated in that direction and looking closely, and organized to conceptualize what was observed, that might be hard to do. Phil seems to say it may be impossible to predict 15 years out. I choose to disagree, a little. Not that it is a fast moving world in the job-market, but that there are certain constants. There are certain constants: The need. The individual. The family. The student. The employee. The business. The workplace. The job market. Some skills in the job market. It might be worthwhile to distinguish which skills might be constant. 'The fundamental problem is people such as Mr. Power are so focused on the results they want, they are unable to ask about the responsibilities of the potential employees. An example is the lack of work ethic a significant number of graduating students lack. In none of the ideas for what education needs to do, is there ever any consideration of the responsibilities each student has. As well intended as Mr. Power and other people are, if they never address the potential employee’s role/responsibilities, there will never be any broad or lasting success.' Well, Okay. Let's start there. Let's take the businesses, the jobs, of 15 years from now, as that is also a topic here. How would you approach getting people to begin to look at your most 'fundamental problem' in this situation? If I understand what you said, you said: What will be the role of the employee of the future, in the business of the future, say 2030? What will be the responsibilities expected of 'the employee of the future?' What 'work ethic' will be expected? What shall we instill as 'the responsibilities of the student today', to prepare for the work of 2030? What things might help schools to know how to listen to what people/business is saying? What things might help schools to see what people or businesses are doing?' And if I might add: 'What skills, student or employee, may we consider constant throughout time?' 'How shall we value the individual now, as they prepare for 2030? 'How might the student define the ethics of right and wrong, the constant themes, in the class room and the job market?
Duane
Sun, 05/11/2014 - 12:27am
Leon, “I believe each student, deep down, knows what they want to do in life.” I must be the exception that is to prove your rule. I have had transient purpose but aside from personal commitments and love, wife and daughters and their families, I really haven’t had an driving need/want. As an example, each topic that is post on Bridge I have an opinion on but I don’t have any burning emotion about. I like to see things done more effectively, but nothing where I feel I have the answer to. My interest in learning was subdued until after my formal education ended. The work I have done has changed periodically based on the needs of my employer not base on something I was striving to do, I simply tried to be effective at what was at hand. “It might be worthwhile to distinguish which skills might be constant.” The static skills are the reading, writing, and speaking, foundation math and science, and risk/benefit thinking, the rest are dynamic. What job/skill hasn’t been and continually affected/changed by technology, by the work environment. “How would you approach getting people to begin to look at your most ‘fundamental problem’ in this situation?” They have to be put into a dynamically driven environment and forced to choose to survive/participate or to leave the environment. The environment must be a culture of change, always challenging, always working to replace itself in 5 years. Engage in discussions that are always asking the why and asking it with each answer. It will take them until that ah ha moment when they realize that they have change from always knowing the answer (even before the question is asked) to being one of those asking the next question, the why. They must be engaged where they have to answer thus they have to think. “What will be the role of the employee of the future” The role of will being moving closer and closer to individual autonomy, role/responsibility/authority. It will move from one of being told how to act to one of looking for opportunities to act. “What ‘work ethic’ will be expected?”, that of the independent contractor who is competing in a highly professional and moral/empathetic environment. “What things might help schools to know how to listen to what people/business is saying?” They have to become focused on who is their ‘customer’, how they can make them successful, they will have to be asking what the ‘customer’ wants and why, and keep changing with each answer to the point where they are delivering to the ‘customer’ what they want/need when they are about to ask for it. The best way to listen it to repeat what they think they hear to confirm it and then offer answer and ask it that would work. “What things might help schools to see what people or businesses are doing?” They need to put people into the businesses (much like interns) that have the responsibility to develop what they find out. It would also be good to have people from businesses to have similar internships in the schools or at least have them be guest instructors, administrator, and councilors, integrate them into the school functions as peers in school discussion. “How shall we value the individual now, as they prepare for 2030?” We don’t, we assess whether they are learning and able to apply the foundation knowledge and skills so when 2030 arrives they will have already been keeping current and learning new skills. “‘How might the student define the ethics of right and wrong, the constant themes, in the class room and the job market?” Start by creating classes on ethics, using the texts that describe ethics (longest standing ones are from religions) moving to educational codes, military codes, and move to the Mission statements of companies. It is about describing what is ethical and then demonstrating how and why. As in any class it is about thinking and doing, homework.
Duane
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 12:35am
Rick, It seemed Scott Samuelson was a bit concerned with the idea that liberal arts subject would have to compete with STEM subjects. With his reference to Plato that caused me to be a bit surprised. I thought Plato and Socrates were ones that encourage the competition of ideas. I have seen TV ads for music and art the promoted the value those subjects brought to the individual in their lives beyond any particular skills they may provide. I would think that would be something Scott Samuelson would talk about rather then simply saying that they do.
Eric Warden
Wed, 04/30/2014 - 12:41pm
In large measure, I agree that the worlds of work and education should be better aligned. One of the reasons they are not is that schools were provided with simple wood- and metal-working facilities and did not have funding to acquire more modern, complex, and costly facilities. Nor did they have staffing to set up apprenticeships. However, I am also concerned that work should not become the sole purpose of education. Several years ago, I was acquainted with a college student who had a burning desire to be a social studies teacher. At that time, there was a glut of unemployed social studies teachers, and there was considerable pressure to curtail enrollments in that field. Eventually, I came to the realization that -- as long as the student was fully apprised of the job situation and alternative fields of study -- it was not my place to stand in the way of his passion. We were there to meet individual needs and aspirations as well as those of society.
Neil
Wed, 04/30/2014 - 9:24pm
Making the connection between education and job skills is the job of high school and college counselors, and teachers who know how their class material is currently being used in the real world. Then, narrow the education focus to real world skills: STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) plus MFC (Management Finance CPA), to more likely get a job in the current economy.
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Thu, 05/01/2014 - 7:10pm
Neil, Here are few ideas you might consider for your short list: How does one get a job with no experience, when all the jobs require 'experience?' Students should be prepared to hear this. Schools could encourage students to work, and get experiences that apply to what they want to do. They could cooperate with local businesses and business men. Teachers could encourage students to bring their parents in, find out where they work, and encourage father/son, mother/daughter, parent/child time at work for kids to be with their parents. Now this does not have to be limited to the world of work. How about community projects? How about the arts? How about kids being encouraged to start their own businesses? How about inviting SCORE people to school and work out a program to show kids how to start business? One could encourage communications with the job market, and discourage things that amount to no or poor communications with the job market. I offered the local school board, to come in and talk to them for a half hour on international competitiveness and how that relates to our local schools. Things they could do to make a difference in the world. What do you think happened to my request? I gave a little course on 'How to Apply Knowledge' to a local Robotics group, at a local high school. My first graduate said, he was going to put it on his resume. Such things could be encouraged. I had to do a lot to set up the free course. What is the single question, all students ask on their first day at work, in the job market? It might be good for students to prepare for this a little. I worked out what I would say in their position, it goes like this: 'I can't wait to find out what you folks do here, and see exactly how you do it?' I test new-hires on their first day, but I will not say just how I do that, yet.
Stu Bradley
Fri, 05/02/2014 - 11:55am
Phil, I am the Chairman of the Career Technical Education (CTE) in Marquette & Alger Counties. I was a participant in this years Education Summit, and I agree with your assessment of the Summit and Michigan's job market. Our Committee of 19 volunteers, that represent 15 different organizations, is trying to get our middle & high school students and their parents interested in the CTE & STEM career areas. We are making progress, but we have a long way to go. Stu Bradley, Marquette County
Leon L. Hulett, PE
Wed, 05/07/2014 - 9:27am
Stu Bradley May 2, 2014 at 11:55 am Hi Stu, I'm a Professional Engineer with nearly 50 years experience, advocating to help young people acquire the knowledge and skills people use to work and create businesses. I spent about 5 years doing substitute teaching at 13 local schools to try out some ideas. I wrote 10 standards, for a local school to work activity, specifically to help the kind of young people your team will be working with. These standards are long term recommendations from industry and are not part of any latest wave of latest studies. I have written up 10 little courses, one for each standard, to train a child rigorously in the things a student may use to apply what they are learning to what they will be doing. I define basic concepts carefully as skills, so a student can apply them directly, like; ability, skill, talent, purpose, goal, standard, and many more. For example: I define Ability as 'To Observe, To Decide', To Act. So, the student can observe a skill intently and acquire it by his own decision. He can acquire the ability to do that activity easily and quickly. I use a few highly observable skills, as examples so that a tutor can easily observe the student has learned the ability to acquire that skill. I recommend you arrange things with highly skilled people from industry so students can observe them at work and acquire their abilities directly, like a mini apprenticeship. The students should also observe their work ethic and professionalism. I arranged for professional level female Engineers, Scientists and Hydrologists to work with female public school students that were interested in professional careers. Last fall I tutored Robotics students at a local public school through an Applying Knowledge Workshop. I'll check back here if you would like a dialogue.
blufox
Mon, 05/05/2014 - 10:36am
At what point do we hold colleges & universities responsible for providing marketable educations? Granted, there will always be students who want to major in Mezo-American architecture from 17AD - 25AD, and if that is what they want to major in fine. However, I believe the schools need to be more forth coming about the likely hood of using that major in today's work environment. When I was in college in the early '70s, I majored in elementary education. All I heard was that there was going to be many jobs openings due to retirements. I'm still waiting for that mass exodus. And, I haven't heard of any schools closing their education departments due to a glut of new teachers.........EVERY spring. Right now, it seems, every college is opening or planning to open a medical school. I understand that there is a shortage of doctors right now. Question is, when that need has been met, will we see ANY of the medical schools closed?