It was 1988, and fresh from a job interview, recent college graduate Stacey Garcia* had braved Southern California freeway traffic to attend a career search workshop at her alma mater. Sprinting from a university parking lot to the student services center in a business suit, she recalls arriving five minutes late and out of breath, only to be told by a pedantic career counselor that there was no room for tardiness in the real world, and that she could take her leave.
A successful marketing consultant today, the 45-year-old Garcia notes wryly that there was indeed tolerance for five- to 10-minute traffic delays in each of the Los Angeles-area jobs she held since being dismissed from the job search seminar that summer afternoon. As we’ve seen in the past five posts, the 10 job skills of tomorrow make any career advice we would have received 10-plus years ago seem quaint and obsolete. The question is, what are the implications of the new job skills for businesses, policymakers, educational institutions, and workers as we face a technology-driven, global society?
Starting at the very beginning, educational institutions from the primary to postsecondary levels are, according to the IFTF report, the products of the past. Today’s social and technological landscape requires that the U.S. education system adapt to the changes and integrate curricula that puts the focus on developing critical thinking skills, new-media literacy, and interdisciplinary training. Also, hands-on learning situations that require students to develop interpersonal skills and learn to read and respond to social cues can help them become better collaborators in a future work environment.
But this level of institutional change can’t happen in a vacuum. This is where policymakers need to step up and push education to the top of the political agenda. A sea change in primary, secondary and postsecondary education can begin to occur through well-thought public policy and a comprehensive campaign to spread awareness about the gap between future workforce skills and the abilities of college graduates, as shown recently in various media. Lifelong education and constant skill renewal will be the new norm, and our educational institutions need to be equipped to address the needs of students of all ages. Read more…