It’s time to reconsider workforce development (Opinion)

Adult education has long been a core service provided by American universities that responds to the country’s literacy and basic skills training as well as to workforce development. While many flexible, innovative programs are being established for technical and skills-based careers, the need for workforce development has changed dramatically. Employees of high-tech defense and manufacturing companies that keep the American economy on the cutting edge need new knowledge-based learning on technology that did not exist when they graduated or even earned their bachelor’s degree. America’s largest employers have sought to build flexible new partnerships around these demands, but have failed to keep the country’s higher education system afloat. For the 21st century, it’s time for a systematic re-evaluation of how American universities can play a role in lifelong workforce education.

Before retiring from the University of Texas at Arlington in the spring of 2021, I collaborated with large regional employers to build a meaningful, long-term partnership with the University. Repeatedly, technology and defense organizations have spoken of the need for easily accessible degree and certification programs that will allow their employees to deepen their knowledge of the career of their choice. Although faculty members and chairs often push back that skills training was not a role for the University of Texas campus, these organizations were looking for more opportunities to build, not to train skills. Knowledge Kind of distributed in core undergraduate and graduate programs. Most importantly, they wanted flexibility in learning programs, whether a single course in electrical engineering, for example, to capture developments in electrification and battery technology, or adaptive certifications and full degrees that only respond to employer and employee needs. Follow scheduled programs and pre-approved degree plans.

Several demographic and technological trends make the need for staff for new knowledge a more urgent priority. Less traditional-aged students are being admitted to college, a development that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 epidemic. The rate at which technological knowledge has widened the divide between workers and everyone else is widening, exacerbating existing economic and racial inequalities, while reducing the number of quality jobs available to “everyone else” in the long run. Ultimately, shortening the “re-modified” production and supply chain will require a significant increase in the knowledge workforce at a time when America is simply not producing enough engineers and scientists.

Where higher education fails America is unable to recognize it, or perhaps fails to address the fact that in a knowledge-based economy, there is a need for staff and employees that only American knowledge providers আমাদের our universities সরবরাহ can provide, and those state universities specialize. There is a moral obligation that they are failing to fulfill. This failure is morally questionable and socio-economically detrimental to the country and the people.

Furthermore, failing to recognize the need for knowledge-based certificates and degrees in today’s workforce, higher education is ignoring an opportunity to address the racial, ethnic, and social inequalities that have ensnared many underdeveloped Americans – inner-city African Americans and Latino, rural white people. Single moms, veterans, and more চে the bottom of the career track where their true talents can take them. Employees who have an associate’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology (EET), for example, despite their career experience, face significant challenges in transferring those credits to a four-year engineering BS degree without having to start. Innovative pathway initiatives that help EET students transfer to EE degree programs need to be developed that replicate the graduate transfer pathways that institutions such as the Georgia Institute of Technology have applied to colleges and universities that do not have engineering programs.

The cost of tuition and the subsequent debt burden make it an additional moral obligation in our state universities. They are the only organization that has a reasonable price point for a low-paid postgraduate degree and they already have relationships with employers who need such talent the most, whether they are government agencies, social service organizations or manufacturers and high-tech companies. . Regional public university campuses should lead the way in providing the vast majority of online or face-to-face knowledge-based education for these staff, especially if the public flagship, focusing on national rankings, does not want to be involved.

State universities, after all, have to ask themselves why they are lagging behind in adapting to the changing workforce needs of the country. Is it a long-standing prejudice against the provision of career-oriented training? If so, these universities have refused to acknowledge the fact that technological change and socio-economic stagnation in today’s economy have placed new responsibilities on higher education in America. Employers today understand the huge gap between easy career training and the knowledge-based degree that supports career advancement. The academy has to catch up.

There are three immediate steps that can be taken by universities and corporate partners:

  1. Regional universities need to work with their local and national corporate supporters to set a plan for the needs. The range of knowledge requirements of the company, percentage of employees who will face face to face online options, wide availability of three and four undergraduate courses for associate degree holders Fits this discussion by supporting thinking, writing skills and leadership. In the larger market with multiple employers, partnerships across the industrial sector will help universities with similar workforce challenges find a sustainable way to build this segment of their student organizations. If the local corporate community does not fund such practices, community foundations or regional economic development groups should take action.
  2. A sustained national effort is needed to overcome the racial and socio-economic divisions created by the relentless focus of higher education on students between the ages of 18 and 24. The launch of the Power of Systems movement by the National Association of System Heads in December is a good start, but the proposal does not elaborate on anything other than the most comprehensive-brush goal. As the ramp of that effort grows, corporations and public universities across the country can now work together to address the most demanding degrees in the region and the changing demands within the industry. At the same time, students whose life experience or secondary educational attainment leads them to a skill-based degree must be given the opportunity to advance. In some cases, this will require a systemic change. For example, the engineering accreditation body, ABET, should aggressively reach out to industries and universities so that EET associate degree holders can obtain an engineering degree with minimal disruption to life. Such a process could unlock a huge new pool of indigenous engineering talent at a time when engineers have very little supply.
  3. The higher education and corporate world needs to engage with undergraduate and graduate students and their future employers about the meaning and scope of overuse of the term “lifelong learning.” Students and recent graduates need to be aggressive in interviewing potential employers in their programs to support ongoing education throughout their careers and which education tracks — engineering, engineering management or business administration — will lead to a career track. Employers need to work more aggressively with university partners to map out their future talent needs. Companies can be very open about their long-term corporate strategies in doing this, but since academic disciplines only align sensitively with business units, it is easier to manage such exposure by hiring a business school or system engineering researcher as a consultant. Information exchange. Universities need to aggressively shift their focus from alumni to donors to potential students, corporate internals – and yes, donors. Money will come, but for today’s students, a meaningful ongoing relationship will be needed for their future involvement with college or university; Career engagement is an important way to achieve that goal.

Most importantly, everything described here can be actively applied by the public universities of the country in the very near future. These steps do not require waiting for the emergence of future universities or massive academic overhauls which experience tells us that many years of practice will inevitably turn into navel-vision. American state universities provide quality education at a much lower cost than private institutions, while collaborating with key corporate partners allows them to focus their efforts on programs with the greatest regional impact. The content of today’s university coursework and programs is exactly what the workforce needs; What needs to be changed is the mode of delivery. The academy must acknowledge that its primary customer base has shifted, mostly from 18- to 24-year-old graduates on a four- to six-year track in a broad, difficult-defined mix that includes those students but beginner- and mid-professional professionals, adult associate degree holders, experienced , Returning mothers to their education and much more. Higher education, which cries out for diversity of opportunities inside and outside the university, must move forward to make it happen.

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