While statistics suggest that the economy is nearing full employment, millions of people remain
unemployed or underemployed in the U.S. It’s not that there are open positions, the number of job openings rose to 5.4 million in April.
The mismatch, much worse in many parts of the world, is due to labor markets that haven’t kept pace with rapid shifts in the global economy, according to a McKinsey study. The report said,
“These issues translate into costly wasted potential for the global economy. More important, they represent hundreds of millions of people coping with
unemployment, underemployment, stagnant wages, and discouragement.”
The McKinsey prescription is better online talent platforms that more effectively connect individuals with work opportunities. The report highlights popular
profile sharing platforms including LinkedIn and Monster that aggregate
individual résumés with job postings. McKinsey calculations suggest that better platforms would lead to increased labor market participation and improved
productivity would generate almost $3 trillion in global GDP over the next ten years.
Better HRIS in edu. As noted in April, human
resource information systems (HRIS) in education are even further behind most sectors. If education is about talent development, we need to radically
improve how we recruit, hire and develop educators, and this demands much better HRIS.
In a recent Hewlett-sponsored paper written with Digital Promise, we suggested that educators should benefit from blended, personalized, and competency-based
professional growth. Platforms like Bloomboard (where I’m a director) are helping districts make the shift.
Better Career education. The McKinsey report suggested that, “Online talent platforms increase the transparency of the demand for skills, enabling young
people to make better educational choices.” They estimate that more effective spending on higher education could reduce some of the $89 billion in
misallocation they found in developed economies.
More broadly, as noted last year, better career education
would inform learning and work choices. Following are six, strategies to improve career education in K-12.
1. Encourage career awareness in grades 6-12. States and districts should encourage all secondary schools to incorporate career awareness into advisory
curriculum and make career education resources available to all students. (See
Core & More: Guiding & Personalizing College & Career Readiness
). Starting in middle grades, students should be setting goals and linking job options with educational pathways. Advisors (and advisory systems) should
track progress and provide decision support (e.g. Summit Public Schools).
2. Expand work-based learning for all students in grades 6-14. All students should graduate having experienced success in a career setting.Jobs for the Future outlined best practices in work based learning including assessment and
feedback; work experiences that progress from introductory to advanced; mentoring and leadership development opportunities; and a digital portfolio to
capture evidence and artifacts.
3. Applied learning experiences. Ask teams of students to struggle with real world problems. Examples include Reynoldsburg capstone super blocks; METSA New Tech capstone, presentations of learning at High Tech High, and intensive, nine-week
interdisciplinary courses at NYC iSchool.
4. Improve work skills. Most college graduates lack basic employability, work ethic, business analytics and communication, and design thinking. Programs
like General Assembly, Koru, and Fullbridge are filling the gaps left by K-16 education. The NAFTrack certificate program provides quality work
experiences and feedback to high school students.
5. Expand CTE academies. GPS Education Partners is a network of manufacturing flex academies in the upper midwest. Career Path High near Salt Lake City is an early college flex
high school at an applied technology training center. P-TECH computer science schools in Chicago and New York
combine high school, work experiences and an associate’s degree, with a good shot at a good job. Wunschue in Houston and CAPS in Kansas City provide great
career preparation. Louisiana Course Choice is a great example of a state proactively seeking expanded
online CTE courses linked to emerging job clusters.
6. Maker. Creating can get kids excited about careers. There is a growing range of K-12 coding resources, Maker Faire (see a recap of Portland’s #iPDX14), and DIY activities.
Baltimore’s Digital Harbor Foundation is making hands-on learning available
after school and during the summer. Project Lead The Way offers applied hands-on STEM learning in engineering,
biomedical science, and computer, along with post-secondary credit for students who qualify. FIRST is a great
As noted in Smart Cities That Work for Everyone, broad advances in areas like career
education, career planning and employability take a web of regional partnerships including higher education and chambers of commerce.
McKinsey concludes, “With the right investment, a thoughtful approach, and continued innovation from the private sector, the world could move closer to the
goal of a labor market that works.”
For more see:
The opinions expressed in Vander Ark on Innovation are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.