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2020 skills forecast for the European Union

Europe

Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, supplied a comprehensive assessment of Europe’s skills requirements up to 2020 to the European Council.  In the study, they identified six employment trends leading to the year 2020 horizon:

  1. Services sector still expanding: Europe continues to shift away from manufacturing and agricultural industries
  2. Around 20 million new jobs in Europe by 2020 despite the loss of well over 3 million jobs in the primary sector and almost 0.8 million in manufacturing
  3. Workforce shortages by 2020: based on demographic developments, there will be an increase in retirees and a decrease in the working-age population
  4. High and medium-skilled occupations on the rise as will the demand for the number of lower-level jobs (such as agricultural workers and clerks)
  5. Polarization of jobs as high and low-level occupations increase: “Skill supply as an important push factor on the demand side of the labour market, however, raises concern. Are people’s skills adequately valued? Do the skills provided match those required? Are people overqualified carrying out jobs that could be done by people with lower educational attainment?” (p. 11)
  6. Increase in qualification levels: The growth of skilled occupations require an increase for qualified workers.  Fewer jobs will become available to workers with few qualifications.

From these trends, Cedefop generated a set of policy implications, most notably:

Based on these findings, overall demand for skills is likely to continue to rise. For Europe to remain competitive, policy needs to ensure that the workforce can adapt to these requirements. Europe needs a strategy to satisfy the demands of the service-oriented knowledge-intensive economy. Continuing training and lifelong learning must contribute to a process that enables people to adjust their skills constantly to on-going structural labour market change.

The young generation entering the labour market in the next decade cannot fulfil all the labour market skill needs. This has implications for education and training. Lifelong learning is paramount. It requires implementing a consistent and ambitious strategy that reduces the flow of early school leavers and drop-outs, establishes a comprehensive skills plan for adults/adult learning and which increases the supply of people trained in science and technology.

[…]

Labour market and other social policy measures need to be more flexible for those needing to change their job. Alongside flexicurity measures, Europe must make proposals to maximise the employment potential of its workforce. Bringing more women into the labour market and longer working lives are crucial and unavoidable measures for Europe’s sustainable future.

How to balance work with personal and family lives? Reconciling the work-life balance in the context of social policy agenda and corporate social responsibility is a challenge for the coming years. (pp. 14-15)

[View the report in its entirity here.]

McCain and Obama on educational change

Few topics are as political as education, in which at least basic schooling is compulsory for all Americans. It is fitting, then, that we conclude this week’s focus on change with a look at the changes that presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama each propose for U.S. education. After analyzing educational policy statements on each candidate’s website, one contender clearly presents an agenda for educational change: Barack Obama. Unfortunately, Sen. McCain only provides a short statement on his educational stance, while Sen. Obama, in addition to an outline for action he proposes, provides a comprehensive plan for lifetime success through education.

McCain focuses his statements on education on school choice –that is, if a school fails a student, then the student should have the freedom to move to a different school. McCain believes that many schools are failing, and No Child Left Behind helps to illustrate the problem. Obama believes that public education was broken before NCLB –and that NCLB was intended to fix the problem, but was poorly conceived, never properly funded, and was poorly implemented.

Excerpts from statements made by each campaign:

On No Child Left Behind

McCain: No Child Left Behind has focused our attention on the realities of how students perform against a common standard. John McCain believes that we can no longer accept low standards for some students and high standards for others. In this age of honest reporting, we finally see what is happening to students who were previously invisible. While that is progress all its own, it compels us to seek and find solutions to the dismal facts before us.

Obama: Reform NCLB, by funding the law. Obama believes teachers should not be forced to spend the academic year preparing students to fill in bubbles on standardized tests. He will improve the assessments used to track student progress to measure readiness for college and the workplace and improve student learning in a timely, individualized manner. Obama will also improve NCLB’s accountability system so that we are supporting schools that need improvement, rather than punishing them.

On Science, Technology, Education and Mathematics (STEM)

McCain: Unknown.

Obama: Obama will recruit math and science degree graduates to the teaching profession and will support efforts to help these teachers learn from professionals in the field. He will also work to ensure that all children have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels.

On Non-Formal Education

McCain: Unknown.

Obama: Obama will double funding for the main federal support for afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to serve one million more children.

Obama’s “STEP UP” plan addresses the achievement gap by supporting summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and community organizations.

On Higher Education

McCain: Unknown.

Obama: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

On Responsibility for Education

McCain: If a school will not change, the students should be able to change schools. John McCain believes parents should be empowered with school choice to send their children to the school that can best educate them just as many members of Congress do with their own children. He finds it beyond hypocritical that many of those who would refuse to allow public school parents to choose their child’s school would never agree to force their own children into a school that did not work or was unsafe. They can make another choice. John McCain believes that is a fundamental and essential right we should honor for all parents.

Obama: The Obama plan will encourage schools and parents to work together to establish a school-family contract laying out expectations for student attendance, behavior, and homework. These contracts would be provided to families in their native language when possible and would include information on tutoring, academic support, and public school choice options for students.

Right now, Sen. Obama is the only candidate who shares a plan for educational reform. As the election nears, we will revisit the positions on the two candidates. If the McCain campaign comes forward with a plan for educational change, we will share it with you at EducationFutures.com as the election nears.

Change

Education Futures had an opportunity to cover Barack Obama‘s historic clinch of the Democratic Party’s nomination in St. Paul last night. Next week, we will focus on change, and what both presidential candidates believe needs to be changed in regard to human capital development to secure America’s future.

Photos from the event are available here. Also, make sure to visit Minnesota Monitor for more coverage.

OECD teams with YouTube to discuss future of the Internet

Got development ideas for the digital world? The OECD is willing to engage in a dialog by video. The organization’s press release says it all:

OECD – Paris, 29 May 2008

OECD and YouTube launch “Future of the Internet” initiative

“How can the Internet make the world a better place?” This is the question OECD is asking the public on YouTube, the leading online video community, at www.youtube.com/futureinternet.

YouTube users can share their opinion with the leaders and opinion shapers attending the OECD Ministerial meeting on the “Future of the Internet” in Seoul, Korea on 17-18 June 2008.

“You tell the leaders and opinion shapers in Seoul what you think and they will upload responses to your ideas. Join in. Take part in making a difference,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría.

The best videos uploaded to www.youtube.com/futureinternet will be shown to ministers and VIPs at the event. They will be invited to react and their answers will be uploaded on YouTube during the meeting.

In Seoul, all participants, including government ministers from more than 40 countries and hundreds of global leaders from international government organisations, business, the Internet’s technical community and civil society, will be encouraged to submit their own answers at a dedicated YouTube booth on site.

For full details of how to participate, see www.youtube.com/futureinternet

Thanks to Dr. Cristóbal Cobo for the tip.

Repost: 10 ways U.S. education is failing to produce creatives

ten-days-sm.pngOur third item this week on the United States’ unstable orbit around mediocrity is a repost of our top ten list of how U.S. education is failing to create students that will succeed in creative, knowledge- and innovation-based economies (first published last June). We apologize for beating a dead horse, but No Child Left Behind heads-off this list as failure #1:

  1. No Child Left Behind. NCLB is producing exactly the wrong products for the 21st Century, but is right on for the 1850’s through 1950. NCLB’s fractured memorization model opposes the creative, synthetic thinking required for new work and effective citizenship.
  2. Schools are merging with prisons. As soon as students enter schools, they lose many of their fundamental rights, including the right to free speech. Students who do not wish to conform to prison-like, automaton production must develop individual creativity to survive… often at a price.
  3. Inadequate teacher preparation, recruitment and retention. The U.S. public schools have always been lemmings, but are now failing to produce teachers who are savvy to the contemporary trends their students must learn and respond to in times of accelerating change. The other half of the picture is teacher-modeled creativity, something the public schools have never seriously attempted.
  4. Insufficient adoption of technology. The squeeze is on from both ends: Student-purchased technology is usually derided, suppressed, and sometimes confiscated. These tools are part of the technology spectrum kids know they will have to master. On the other end, technology in the schools is dated, the Internet is firewalled, and there isn’t enough equipment to go around.
  5. Focusing on information retention as opposed to new knowledge production. Disk-drive learning is for computers. Knowledge production and innovation are for humans. The first requires fast recall and low error rates from dumb systems; the second, driven by intelligent people, builds the economy and keeps America competitive.
  6. Innovation is eschewed. Most U.S. teachers think innovation is something that requires them to suffer the discomforts and pains of adaptation. They don’t accept change as a necessary function of expanding national competitiveness. Many U.S. teachers might be more comfortable in industrial world economies and societies represented by China and South Korea, or 1950’s America.
  7. Continuous reorganization of school leadership and priorities, particularly in urban schools. Serious questions can be raised whether schools are the organizations required to cope with semi-permanent underclasses, violent youth, incompetent, irresponsible parenting and negative adult role models. What institutional substitutions would you make for the schools?
  8. National education priorities are built on an idealized past, not on emergent and designed futures. Blends of applied imagination, creativity, and innovation are required to visualize preferred futures, to render them proximal and grounded, and to forge them into empirical realities. On the other hand, it is quite possible that Secretary Spellings and other highly placed education “leaders” have never had an original thought in their entire lives.
  9. Social class and cultural problems in schools and communities suggest that the schools live in a Norman Rockwell past. Bright kids capable of novel thought and new culture creation have never fit into the industrially modeled American schools, and lower-middle class teachers have little respect for working- and poverty-class art, music, and culture. It appears that the schools are populated by timid, unimaginative, lower-middle class professional placeholders who crave convention (spelling bees, car washes, exceptional sports performances) over invention.
  10. Failing to invest resources in education, both financially and socially. Education is formal, informal, and non-formal in structure and function. It is possible that formal education will be recognized as the least powerful of this trio, in part because it is so dated, and in part because it occurs in such a small percentage of life compared with the other two types. Perhaps new funding algorithms and decisions must follow this ratio.

"No problem left behind"

Our second post this week on the United States’ unstable orbit around mediocrity focuses on Matt Miller’s critique of education in America from the January/February 2008 Atlantic Monthly: “First, kill all the school boards.” He writes that “local control has become a disaster for our schools” and that school districts are stunted by four key problems:

  1. No way to know how children are doing. And, NCLB is not helping.
  2. Stunted R&D: “Local control has kept education from attracting the research and development that drives progress, because benefits of scale are absent.”
  3. Incompetent school boards and union dominance. (No need to elaborate on this one…)
  4. Financial inequity: “Communities with high property wealth can tax themselves at low rates and still generate far more dollars per pupil than poor communities taxing themselves heavily.”

The solution he argues? Get rid of school boards and remove local control of schools. It may seem counter-intuitive, but…

Research in 46 countries by Ludger Woessmann of the University of Munich has shown that setting clear external standards while granting real discretion to schools in how to meet them is the most effective way to run a system. We need to give schools one set of national expectations, free educators and parents to collaborate locally in whatever ways work, and get everything else out of the way.

More solutions to mediocrity in American education are coming up next week.

Fifth grade for the 21st century

You are invited to join us for the final Horizon Forum meeting for this school year!

Fifth Grade for the 21st Century

Hosted by Dr. Tom Tapper, Superintendent, Owatonna Public Schools

Thursday, April 24

11:15am – 1:00pm

Conference Room 325, Education Sciences Building (University of Minnesota East Bank)

Dr. Tom Tapper (Superintendent, Owatonna Public Schools), Dr. Steve O’Connor (Director of Instructional Services), Mary Baier (Principal, Washington Elementary School) and Matt McCartney (Teacher, Washington Elementary School) will lead a discussion on their experiences in purposively adopting technologies in Owatonna Public Schools. During this session, Mr. McCartney’s fifth grade class will join us by videoconference for student presentations on how they’re using technology in innovative, Leapfrog-oriented ways that better connect them with their future participation in the workforce.

Lunch and validated parking will be provided. Please RSVP your attendance to Carole MacLean at cmaclean@umn.edu or call 612-625-5060.

Reversing America's hidden brain drain

A few days ago, Minnesota Public Radio‘s Gary Eichten shared a clip of Duke’s Vivek Wadhwa, speaking about his research on the effects of globalization in the United States:

After researching the impact of globalization on U.S. competitiveness in the tech industry, Vivek Wadhwa was surprised to see his findings contradict commonly-held ideas. He recently discussed his research at the City Club of Cleveland and the policies he says are taking the U.S. in the wrong direction.

He states that we need not worry about a shortage of scientists and engineers in the U.S., despite alarms sounding off to the contrary by public policy leaders. If we provide incentives for U.S.-educated foreign nationals to remain in the country rather than requiring them to leave after they complete university studies, we can build and maintain the human capital required to remain competitive in the 21st century. For more, listen to his talk at the MPR website

(Thanks to Carole Gupton for forwarding this item.)

Where is the drive for entrepreneurship?

The StarTribune is running an excellent story on an intellectual property crisis at the University of Minnesota that probably is contextualizable to other “Research I”/”Research Universities (RU/VH)” universities as well: Entrepreneurship is avoided. Perhaps this is a cultural thing:

The university “provides all sorts of disincentives to new technology,” John Alexander, president of Twin Cities Angels, a local investor group, recently told the state’s House Committee on Biosciences and Emerging Technology.

[…]

“It was difficult to get access to intellectual property,” said Dale Wahlstrom, a former Medtronic executive who is now chief executive of the BioBusiness Alliance of Minnesota. “It was a one-sided discussion. If they couldn’t get the optimal deal, they wouldn’t do anything.”

The article goes on to suggest that “the university traditionally lacked the necessary money and managerial talent to turn promising research into viable companies.” As an employee of the University of Minnesota, I feel I should avoid addressing that topic. But, still, I wonder…

  • Is the drive for innovation and entrepreneurship what separates really great universities from the others?
  • If world-class private universities actively support entrepreneurial activities and support the spinning-off of enterprises (i.e., Stanford and MIT), why shouldn’t land grand institutions do so as well if they are providing for the public good by releasing technologies and other intellectual property that otherwise would not impact society?
  • As the rest of the world adopts new intellectual property models (i.e., Creative Commons), what will become of the research institutions that today fail to succeed in realizing opportunities from yesterday’s models?