Originally the education systems of the world were structured for the elite. It created an opportunity for an exclusive group to think, strategize and explore. Mass education came about as a result of the industrial revolution and the need for more skilled craftsmen. The education industry thus was tied to a basic educational mix to broadly prepare the population for basic literacy and math skills, to onboard immigrants and to teach common language and to integrate cultural history and values.
In the 1960’s educational institutions went thru a variety of changes as generational values adjusted to cultural changes. An unpopular war, increasing influence of pop culture and a coincidental drug and “liberal” ideology fundamentally changed the “campus” definition. Faculty tenure systems became prevalent and politics came out of the closet. There were many social changes from women entering the workforce in greater volume to the Great Society social programs. Campuses became the hot bed for open and diverse discussion of issues. Concurrent with the “open” culture there was an attraction to the career academic for many of those with an ideology of pushing back against violations of personal freedoms from human rights to legalization of drugs to a wartime draft. A career in academia (staying in school) gave both a respite from the draft as well as an audience for non-conforming ideas and freedom of speech.
This changed the world of academia. Tenure and other employment strategies created a lack of accountability among other results. This was not an overnight phenomenon. By the turn of the century this renaissance in academia did not any longer address the needs of a technologically changed employer appetite. Skill sets were no longer matching many employer needs. Increasingly the need for ‘greater education” was necessary. The value of a college degree was increasingly the ticket to greater opportunity and increased compensation. The problem was the skill sets learned in college increasingly were a mismatch for employers’ needs. Combined with increasing two earner households (see last blog repercussions) more people were graduating with degrees. There was an increasing lack of accountability of universities to adjust their curriculum to employer needs. The perseverance of faculty to adhere to traditional academia prevailed. Concurrent government policy of financial aid and access programs made college demand accelerate and tuition costs skyrocket.
Today over 80% of employers feel students do not possess the skills needed for career entry. Over 90% of academic leaders feel students are prepared for careers (The Lumina Foundation). Only 22% of students feel they are prepared. To say there is a disconnect is an understatement. Colleges are trying to ramp up career service programs and best practices. The problem is the lack of accountability to change. Colleges are rewarded on pushing student to graduate. No matter what the financial cost the incentive is not career placement. The education industry is in conflict of whether career preparation trumps” academic integrity”. There is an ideological disconnect with parents and students paying for their” ticket” in the college degree and campuses not accountable to successful job placement. There is a monumental need to change this paradigm of unintentional consequences.
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