As the World Changes at Breakneck Speed, so Must the Education we Provide our Children

As members of this organization, we know that the majority of Colorado’s kids aren’t prepared for Colorado’s jobs; I have seen this firsthand as the chief technology officer for Sage Hospitality. But when I recently heard that 70 percent of students aren’t qualified to serve in the military, I was blown away.

Greg Washington speaks at Colorado Succeeds annual member luncheon
Greg Washington speaks at Colorado Succeeds annual member luncheon.

This, and many other interesting factoids, was shared at Colorado Succeeds’ annual member luncheon. The event featured Dr. Greg Washington, dean of the University of California Irvine engineering school. Dr. Washington gave a compelling presentation about how the worlds of work and education are changing at a dizzying pace, and what it will take for our society to simply keep up, nonetheless prepare students for success in what Colorado Succeeds calls the Age of Agility.

Here is what I took away from the event:

    1. Industry is changing at an exponential rate. More than half the in-demand jobs in 2017 didn’t exist in 2007, Washington said, and right now, about two-thirds of what engineering students learn is obsolete by the time they graduate. One of our greatest challenges going forward is to build a more agile education system that supports more agile learning providers, who can quickly respond to the changing world around them. If industry must constantly adapt to meet market needs, so must our schools.
    2. Education is trying to figure out how to keep pace. Washington said classrooms as we know them have been obsolete for some time. He went on to describe a recent study that had a group of students wear wrist straps that could measure brain activity for a full week. A key finding: brain activity was at its lowest during class time. In fact, class was below sleep and had a nearly flat line of brain activity! Washington’s conclusion: There is a real disconnect between how we are educating our students and how they are learning. His solution: Modify, change, and innovate. To push innovation, form partnerships between industry, education, and advocacy groups.
    3. Public-private partnerships are key. These partnerships require all hands on deck; Industry, K-12, higher education, non-profit, and non-governmental organizations must all come together to build a more agile education system. This level of partnership – led by organizations like Colorado Succeeds – is critical to aligning education and workforce needs.
    4. There are examples of success statewide. As Scott shared, there are great things happening in Colorado schools, from Salida to Longmont. These schools show what’s possible when we empower those closest to students to design programs that respond to community needs. They also show how important it is for industry to step up and contribute vital capacity, expertise, and resources. Working together, we can create career pathways for students that they never knew existed.
    5. More than ever, education is a driver of economic prosperity, at both an individual and societal level. We’re all at this table because we agree with Washington’s point that, “education has always been the key.” Even small increases in education attainment strengthen an economy and can transform an individual’s life trajectory.

At the end of the event, Scott mentioned that Colorado Succeeds has developed a vision for the future of education, Vision 2030. This document outlines how Colorado can build the more agile education system Washington discussed. I hope you’ll check it out here. For photos from the event, click here.

By Matt Schwartz
Chief Technology Officer, Sage Hospitality

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