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OPINION: The new lifelong learner — an education to match America’s economic needs

The Hechinger Report – Mark Dorman

“In the past, we’ve often thought about formal education as the acquisition of broad skills at a fixed point in time, with training ending at about age 18, 22 or later for those who need advanced degrees. In order to succeed in the jobs of the future, the workers of tomorrow will need to become lifelong learners. The brain you graduate from college with at age 22 isn’t the one you’re stuck with for the rest of your life. And lifelong learning is the education that never ends: An ever-evolving mastery and proof of abilities.”(more)

People who speak multiple languages make the best employees for one big reason

Quartz – Gabrielle Hogan-Brun

“Speaking a different language—whether it’s your grandparents’ tongue or high-school Spanish—fundamentally changes the structure of your brain. Put a bunch of these malleable minds together in a company, and you create the potential for some truly original thinking. We already know that businesses thrive on the diversity of ideas created by a multicultural workforce. Multicultural awareness is an essential soft skill in work as well as life, and it goes beyond office culture to economic benefits: According to a recent survey by the Economist, two-thirds of 572 international company executives say that their teams’ multicultural nature increases their organization’s innovation.”(more)

The Disconnect Between Education and Entrepreneurship

Forbes – Courtney Williams

“As the CEO of an edtech startup, I witness first-hand the abundant challenges that confront our country’s educational system. While there are pockets of hope, it feels like things are getting worse, not better. The U.S. continues to lag behind other countries when it comes to student outcomes. In the most recent study published by PISA, among developed countries, the U.S. ranked 41st in math, 24th in reading and 25th in science. In a nation so rich in resources, arguably the greatest country in the world, this is at best alarming and at worst, an existential threat.”(more)

College reality

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

In a few weeks tens of thousands of young Americans will leave home and begin the “college experience”. As they descend on campuses across the country, they will be greeted by impressive buildings, acclaimed alumni, elaborate social functions, and luxury hotel-like accommodations. In addition to getting used to their new “homes”, these newly minted adults will be asked to select majors that prepare them for post college employment.

Interestingly, the university structure and incentives may not always be aligned with what is best for students.

Universities are broken into departments. Each department is responsible for running a profitable business or demonstrating that there is enough demand for its offerings that it would be foolish for the university to close the department. Departments like engineering generally have large research budgets, so they are less concerned about student enrollment than departments like the humanities and social sciences that have fewer research dollars.

As might be expected, the departments with fewest research dollars generally work hardest to convince students to select majors within their purview. Until 15-20 years ago, this model worked well, because it was possible to obtain high quality employment with a wide variety of university degrees.

Technology has improved access to information so much that many jobs related to compiling, organizing, and disseminating information have already been or are being eliminated. Careers that have been hardest hit are law, social sciences, and the humanities.

Since there are fewer job opportunities for people with these degrees, many college graduates find it difficult to procure jobs that pay a premium over what was available to them before they attended college.

This shift creates a dilemma for the parents of a child who did not develop a proclivity for math in high school. Does the parent have the resources to send the child to college so he/she can graduate without debt and go on to a job that he/she most likely could have obtained without attending college? Is it better to consider a high paying trade like plumbing or electricity, rather than expending money on college? Or is it wiser to encourage the child to go to a community college and learn math, so he/she has the skills to obtain a college degree with higher earning potential?

It is a tough decision, but is something that should be discussed before a family blindly spends large sums of money on a college education that does little to improve a child’s long term earning potential.

More teenagers choosing summer studies over jobs

USA Today – Kellie Ell

“It used to be that a summer job was considered a teenage rite of passage. Today, Monaco, who has never had a summer job, is part of a growing trend of teenagers who are focusing on their studies, even during the summer. Only 43% of teenagers had a job last summer. That’s down from the 72% of Americans age 16 to 19 who worked in July of 1978, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Instead of finding them interning in an office or behind a fast food counter, these days, you’ll find many teens in some sort of summer school. Forty-two percent of teenagers were enrolled in classes last summer — almost four times the number of students enrolled in summer school in July 1985. By 2024, teenage workers will make up just 26% percent of the workforce, a reduction of almost half since 1948 when the same age group accounted for more than 52% of workers.”(more)

Want a Job? Study Says to Learn Another Language.

Language Magazine – Staff Writer

“Those who speak other languages may want to highlight that fact on their resumes, as customers in the U.S. are becoming increasingly diverse and businesses seek to follow suit. According to a new report by New American Economy titled, “Not Lost in Translation, The Growing Importance of Foreign Language Skills in the U.S. Job Market”, the demand for bilingual employees is rising. The number of job listings aimed toward bilingual workers has doubled since 2010, when employers posted roughly 240,000 job listings. That figure has risen to approximately 630,000. The share of postings specifically seeking bilingual individuals has also increased, with the portion of online listings rising 15.7 percent.”(more)