There is a huge disconnect between what is being taught in two- and four-year colleges and what the business and industry needs are. We hear all the time about workforce development and the need for higher educational institutions to partner with representatives from business, industry, and manufacturing sectors, and yet the chasm seems to be getting wider.
Those of you who follow my writings know that I strongly support a competency-based educational model. In this context, curriculum is standards-based and based on competencies aligned to those standards. From there, instructional activities facilitate learning while assessments measure learner proficiency. The question becomes: Where do the competencies come from?
I think they should come directly from the workforce–from representatives of the various sectors of employment that graduates will seek upon program completion. Educational institutions should create advisory councils for this purpose–not just as “window dressing” or to meet accreditation requirements–but as true partners in the educational process. So, standards could align to authentic, workforce-driven competencies that are needed for employment, and apprenticeships could be set up to support authentic student learning in a clinical or field setting.
It seems like such a win-win to me–so why aren’t we doing it? That’s another topic for another blog post…