Pathways from education system to job complicated and oft wastes time and resources
As workers adjust to the changes brought about by the nation’s recent economic downturn, they will be looking to our education system to provide them the knowledge and skills needed to earn a living wage. But navigating the pathway from postsecondary education to a job is complicated and often results in a waste of time and resources that do not even lead to a postsecondary credential, according to a recent Education Commission of the States report.
Revving the Education Engine notes the hurdles that government, education and business leaders must leap in order to create an effective education system which benefits students and state economies. Further, the report provides a series of recommendations on how to overcome those challenges. The suggested approach is drawn from ECS’s work in 2009, which is when the organization dedicated efforts to engage state education, business and workforce development leaders in the creation of a framework that would allow states to more effectively align education, economic development and workforce development policy.
In brief, the report highlights the complicated structure of education and workforce training systems – from high school to workforce training programs to community colleges – and calls for the need to coordinate goals, resources and efforts. The alignment strategy should include four main elements:
1. Integration of education, workforce development and economic development policy
2. Regional focus
3. Positions education as the arbiter of the student supply and workforce demand
4. Aligned P-20, economic development and workforce development system
While it is clear that the need for alignment should be a national priority, the report does point out that the national strategy must be regionally sensitive. The economic downturn has been felt unevenly across states and regions and it is important to recognize the disparities that exist in order to scaffold an education and training plan that can best support a specific area. The report offers thorough examples of how states have deployed strategies to reach some versions of alignment.