Industry + Job Outlook 4 – skills for the future

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Entrepreneurship by Rajeev Roy

This four-part series has been fun.  I’ve been able to wax philosophically on what I think the future holds for Springfield and now in this post on what education needs.  The great thing is that Springfield/Clark County schools are doing some of them in some degree already, but this is not a post on what we’re doing so much as how we can get even better.  The previous three  posts focused on what the State thinks the outlook will be (Industry + Job Outlook for Springfield 1) as well as what industries will serve as the job creation engines for the next decade for Springfield (Industry + Job Outlook 2, Industry + Job Outlook 3). 

The following is a video Springfield City Schools Superintendent Dr. David Estrop presented to the community group.  Many have seen it.  Worth seeing again:

My favorite quote from the video is the following: “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist … using technologies that haven’t been invented … in order to solve problems that we don’t even know are problems.”  The top ten jobs next year weren’t invented around in 2004.  So, how do we prepare?  What do we study?  My argument was that many skills which were “advanced” ten to twenty years ago need to be supplemented and expanded.  Here’s my list.

Keyboarding –> Microsoft

My parents had a lot of foresight when it came to computers.  Not only did I take computer classes before age 10 on Saturday, learning BASIC and playing Spinnaker games before we even had a personal computers, they also made me take typing as well, which is one of the most valuable things they ever did.  The educational system adopted typing as keyboarding, but I would maintain it needs to take the next step.  Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher … these are basic skills of today’s work environment.  For the creative, its Adobe Creative Suite 4, Pinnacle Studio.  For the engineering minded, it’s Inventor or other CAD systems.  For business, it’s salesforce.com or other CRM systems.  Keyboarding is about learning to use the hardware.  The “microsoft skills” are all about software, which is no longer optional, but mandatory to compete.  It’s important to note two additional things.  One, the microsoft skills haven’t replaced keyboarding.  You need to type to really be able to use Word, etc., effectively.  Two, the software we’re using now is not the software we will be using – and schools should update as soon as the new software comes out.  I am pleased as punch that Victoria, my daughter, (see last section) was made this year to do a PowerPoint on the history of hair dryers and how she would innovate the design.  It’s a step in the right direction.   

Teamwork –> Network

Teamwork has been increasingly incorporated into the classroom for quite a while.  Teamwork is a critical skill in today’s workplace.  No one would deny that.  But, equally as critical is networking.  This is on several levels.  First, the buzz and the rage – social media.  How to use technology like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, and the new ones coming down the pike and which will come, Google Wave, Foursquare, etc. is key.  But so is the culture and way to use them.  Let’s not forget older “social media” technology like Constant Contact and other such programs, either.  Second, old school networking doesn’t go out of style either.  Introducing yourself, following-up via notes or emails, the elevator speech, business etiquette, golf, handshakes, etc.  These skills should be taught as well.

Business –> Entrepreneurship

Unfortunately, much of the time, business in high school has been relegated to subjects students take who aren’t doing college prep.  In my opinion, business could be, and should be more fully integrated into other subjects, especially for students with the interest and inclination – or who want to explore it.  Business knowledge itself, though, is no longer sufficient.  Entrepreneurship, or the ability to start and run a business or organization and the skills that encompasses are critical to today’s workplace – not just to self-starters who want to work for themselves.  How to recognize opportunity, how to write business plans and present them, how to figure out what the market wants and creatively and innovatively deliver it, how to manage people, how to make an impact in the real world.  I would argue that these skills, like the microsoft skills, will translate to whatever jobs are coming in the future. 

Industrial Arts –> Engineering + Design

Last, but not least, “shop.”  I remember being in high school, thinking about wanting to do more cooking and carpentry, but not having time in my schedule to pursue it.  Now, I’m not saying that we should provide and/or mandate opportunities like this throughout the curriculum, but I am saying that the traditional way of doing industrial arts – of  making birdhouses and rocket propelled cars out of wood – is not even close to being comprehensive or offering close to the opportunities many students need.  I am seeing, though, in Ohio programs like Project Lead the Way, which my 15-year old freshman daughter Victoria is in at Kenton Ridge High School.  She’s using Inventor, doing isometric drawings (I didn’t know what they were before she took the class), and will be designing robots.  It’s her favorite subject.  She wants to become an engineer.  Without this program, she would have had no idea.  We need to do more of this.

>> Microsoft’s School of the Future

>> Adobe Products success stories – K-12 Education

>> Great article on a high school utilizing social media

>> Teaching entrepreneurship in secondary schools

>> Project Lead the Way – Ohio (a lot of success stories in right margin)

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