Matching Higher Education to Job Needs – Part Four


Higher education is facing a crisis: enough skilled workers cannot be created to fill available jobs. Part Two and Part Three in this series focused on why a suitable employee is important, and how some innovative businesses are becoming involved with education. But even though businesses are helping to create the right kind of worker, there is still the need for 3.5 billion advanced skill jobs by 2030.

While the McKinsey report referenced in Part One announces this probable trend, the reality is that educators are beginning to appreciate the power of different mediums to create workers. The Internet has been the most powerful medium in aiding higher education by opening a massive number of online students to a single teacher.

Brick-and-mortar universities are increasingly putting classes online, such as MIT OpenCourseWare. These courses allow teachers to control large student class sizes, which should enable them to provide more support to online students. However, there is a limit to the number of highly skilled workers a traditional university can create because the students must still, at some point, physically attend the university to earn their degree.

A step removed from the brick-and-mortar university are primarily online universities. These online universities reverse the brick-and-mortar model: a few classes might be offered in a classroom, but the entire degree is usually earned online. A benefit is that students can study and participate in courses at a time conducive to their schedules. If businesses want to solve their need for highly skilled workers, online education will be an ever-growing resource for higher education.

More experimental students may attempt Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). While these courses try to tailor themselves to the particular student, they have not yet been brought into the curricula that would provide a cohesive experience to the student. Until MOOC’s are better structured, they remain simply an interesting experiment.

These three different types of education delivery are each trying to reach students in their own way. But while they focus primarily on the education aspect, businesses’ need for highly skilled workers grows. If the crisis of higher education is to ever be solved, businesses and educational institutions need to more closely bind their futures together. Education will be brought into the new century, and business will once again have a competitive advantage.

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