4 ways that the changing world of work is changing education

We’ve been talking a lot on The Point blog the last month or so about the changing world of work. Unfortunately, until recently, the changing world of work wasn’t doing much to change education. The structure of education has remained very much a product of the industrial revolution. The fact that education’s purpose is primarily to train people to be successful, working adults emphasizes the importance of our educational system adapting to the world of work.

Here are 4 Ways The World of Work is Changing Education:

1. Delivery is changing: Schools are now offering classes outside of traditional school hours and schedules to meet the needs of the learner and foster an environment where each individual can learn best. In addition, virtual offerings are taking place, even down to the elementary school level, where a student doesn’t have to step foot in a traditional classroom to learn. In fact, PennsSounds familiar? The workplace has by and largely done the same thing. For a model of this check out, Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School.

2. Curriculum focus is changing: Reading, Writing and Arithmetic will probably never go away, but curriculum is shifting more and more to focus on the application of concepts learned and how they relate to actual jobs and tasks present in the workplace. The rise of career academies and soft skills lessons and training (what employers seem to complain about the most in terms of what is lacking in employees) lend themselves to foster a learning environment to purposely prepare students to tie relevance to what they are learning and at the same time prepare students to be prepared to meet workplace needs. In addition, many of these models incorporate on-the-job learning requirements through job shadowing, internships and co-ops. For more information on this check out: Career Academy Policy Paper, Model Soft Skills Curriculum

3. The traditional college degree could become obsolete: In a discussion with a friend about saving for our young children’s college education, he said, “You know, when our kids are 18 the model for gaining access to success which, we by and large see now is through a college degree, could be completely turned up on its head.” Interesting, I thought, but I’m not sure I believed it. Although the pace may not be as rapid as he thinks, ie- I haven’t cancelled my my four and one year old’s 529 savings plans- evidence is showing that the traditional college degree model is turning out graduates who are not prepared to meet a need in the marketplace, thus making their degree, well, worthless (even though they paid a pretty penny for it). More and more programs are being offered that seek to prepare individuals for success in the “real world” and they aren’t through traditional post-secondary pathways. For more information on this check out: This is the Future of College and Uncollege.


Image: William Symonds, Director of Global Pathways Institute


How do you see the world of work changing the world of education?

For more on this topic, you might like: 5 Big Ways Education will Change by 2020 from FastCompany

Mary Ila Ward

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