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Education: Changing for the Future
During the past few decades we have seen
a shift from Industrial work to Information technology work. Recently our
country has just recovered from an economic depression. This depression
was a “wake up call” for many people, as they saw highly educated professionals
loosing their jobs. Why, were these educated people loosing their jobs?-Did
they break the rules, not get along with their bosses, or loose their cool?
No, they did not have the flexibility, versatility, and cooperative skills
that are needed in business for a changing economy. They were educated
in a time when liberal art educations, and individualized work skills were
taught at colleges. Layoffs were also due in part to the globilization
of the economy. Cheaper labor can be found in other countries, which results
in the closing of American factories or a drastic cut in pay for workers.

Corporate downsizing, atomization, and an aging population have also contributed
to this change in the type of work available (Rifkin 177). As most Americans
used to be in the same economic bracket regardless of their line of work,
today a worker’s real competitive position in the world economy depends
on what kind of job they have (Jacobus 253). Education is the key to creating
the worker’s demanded from businesses today.

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In aviation and other workplaces today,
employers are not only looking for highly skilled workers, but for people
who are flexible, work well with others and have good problem solving skills.

Colleges must implement new teaching approaches and offer specialized degrees
now, to prepare students for the needs of employers in the information-technology
age. A workers must be flexible to be able to change and grow with the
economy and the needs of employers is very important in today’s job market.

“With corporate downsizing and restructuring so prevalent, employers are
demanding more of their employees. They must be more versatile and multi-task
oriented (Schmiedl 29).” Employees must be able to move from one job to
another, and learn new tasks quickly. The more education they have the
easier it is to adapt to these changes (Carnoy 123). Continuing education
is also becoming more prevalent for today’s workers. To stay at the top
of their fields in knowledge and technology, employees must constantly
be up-dating their education (Schmiedl 29).

Flexibility also ties in with the skill
of working well with other people. To listen and interact with others in
your profession, you must be flexible or open minded to their opinions,
ideas and insights. Interaction with other employees and being a “people
person” enforces cooperative skills. These cooperative skills can benefit
the company as a whole, just as the Nobel Prize winner James Watson said
“Nothing new that is really interesting comes with out collaboration (qtd.

in Johnson 26).” These cooperative skills once taught only to management,
now must be integrated to the employees, as many management positions have
been eliminated. Workers must now possess a “management mentality,” so
that they can co-exist and work beneficially together (Carnoy 123). Problem
solving skills are a necessity for even the simplest of jobs. A high order
of problem solving skills are needed for more advanced positions jobs such
as in aviation (pilots), and in computers and other technical jobs. Having
the ability to work through problems to come up with a positive end result
can be a long and arduous task. The people who have these problems solving
skills can organize more learning, and help others to succeed in solving
problems (Carnoy 123). Group cooperation heightens and speeds up the time
in which it takes to solve problems. It makes for an easier and more efficient
approach to problem solving.

As you can see the three main qualities
of flexibility, working well with others and problem solving are very closely
linked. Workers must be flexible to work well with others, which is important
in having better problems solving skills. Missing just one of these qualities
dampens the ability of a worker to be the productive employee, which employers
are looking for. These skills are not inherent and are difficult to learn.

That is why they must be implemented early on in college.

For years colleges have been ignoring the
power of teamwork and the achievements that could not have been made with
out it (Johnson 26). The problem lies itself within the faculty. It is
their job to implement cooperative learning into classes, and make it work.

This is not an easy task, which is why many professors have opted to stick
with lecturing. Lorenn Walker president of Business Learning Strategies
Inc, says, “Every time I am at school or attending training seminars, I
am struck by how inactive students are expected to be. Most of the time
students simply sit, while the teacher lectures them (27).” It is much
easier for students to experience the learning rather than having the answers
told to them. “Cooperative learning is the heart of problem based learning
(Johnson 26).” Group work allows students to network their thoughts and
ideas, which than can be expanded with-in the group. They motivate each
other by sharing their ideas and findings. The flexible gr! oup which works
together can find solutions to problems quickly and efficiently, which
is key in today’s workplaces.

Specialized degrees and education provide
students with the expert skills needed in today’s top jobs. Businesses
and companies do not want people with general liberal arts degrees they
want specialist in their field. A pilot needs special skills to fly an
airplane that he/she can not get through a liberal art degree. Employers
are only going to hire a pilot with the most and best qualifications. This
is true in most all jobs that require a college degree employers want only
the best.

Some may argue that group work is not good
because some people do the work and others take the easy road doing little.

This can sometimes be true in college classes, but in the work environment,
it is rare. Professionals are not going to carry the load for the whole
group, and likewise most responsible adult will not let others do all the
work. Professional adults do not have enough time to let their co-workers
not do their share of the work, they will take action by speaking with
the boss. To combat these problems in colleges, professors must set the
parameters for the group: The professor must ensure that the student knows
he/she is linked with others in the group, so that he/she cannot succeed
unless the others do. Individual accountability however will be judged
by tests and teacher observation of the group. The professor will teach
the students how to socially interact with each other. Students will have
to help others, contribute their own ideas and offer suppor! tive advice.

Lastly and very importantly is teaching the group to engage in group processing.

This exercise will help the students to find ways to improve their group
efforts (Johnson 26). Being taught these group problem solving skills during
college better prepares students for the type of work they will have to
do in the workplace.

To prepare workers for the information-technology
age the starting point will have to be colleges. Colleges educate the school
teachers and college professors. The sooner colleges begin to use cooperative
learning the sooner it will trickle down into elementary and secondary
schools. Thus making cooperative learning a part of students lives earlier,
so they will sooner adjust to it’s style. College professors must implement
cooperative learning now, to teach flexibility and working well with others.

This change is imperative not only to the success of workers but the entire
economy. Workers with out these skills are at a serious disadvantage in
getting jobs, and keeping them.

Works Cited
Carnoy, Martin. “The Changing World of
Work in the Information Age.” New Political Economy 3.1 (1998): 123-129
Jacobus, Lee. “Why the Rich Are Getting
Richer and the Poor, Poorer.” A World of Ideas. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford
Books, 1998. 251-267.

Johnson, David Johnson, Roger Smith, Karal.

“Cooperative Learning returns to College” Change 30.4 (1998): 26-36
Rifkin, Jeremy. “A Civil Education for
the Twenty-first Century: Preparing Students for a Three Sector Society.”
National Civic Review. 87.2 (1998): 177-182
Schmidl, Joe. “Changing the Face of Higher
Education” Pacific Business News 35.19 (1997): 29
Walker, Lorenn. “Hands-On Learning will
Produce better Problem Solvers” Pacific Business News 33.20 (1995): 27


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