Our series, “The Onus is On Us: How Higher Education Can Close the Skills Gap,” began with higher ed consultant Kate Sawyer asking the question: Is it time for a fundamental change in where and how often we teach critical thinking, problem solving and information skills? Watch the entire webinar recording here.
Sawyer pointed out that while we teach some of these skills in first year experience programs or other low level courses, we don’t extend this learning throughout students’ academic careers in the way necessary for post-graduation success.
Here are some of the issues in higher education Sawyer says we cannot ignore:
- Stagnating enrollment / Increased competition
- Demographics of students and employers are changing
- Accountability for graduates required
- Budgets tightening, faculty asked to do more
- Accreditation standards for “meaningful” assessment increasing
- Employers require grads to have career skills (soft skills) AND subject knowledge
- Possessing technology is not enough, what are we doing with it?
During the webinar, we polled attendees on the question, “Do you agree or disagree with the findings that most students are underprepared for the workforce?” 75% of attendees agreed that students are underprepared for the workforce.
Sawyer emphasized that career skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and communication can’t be learned in one fell swoop. They require repetition and exposure. For graduates to thrive in the Knowledge Economy, higher ed will have to shift what and how students are taught.
Learn more details about the challenges higher ed faces to enact this kind of paradigm shift, and the benefits to students, schools, and faculty by viewing the entire recording here.
Kate Sawyer possesses over 25 years of experience in higher education having served as Director of Education, Vice Chancellor for University Libraries, QEP co-writer and developer, regional, state and programmatic accreditation reviewer and evaluator, curriculum designer, information literacy designer and instructor, and more. Kate continuously looks for opportunities to help shape student success. She lives in Hilton Head, SC and currently consults for higher education administrations and libraries.