November 29, 2021 – Future of Work

In case you missed it: Ryan Stowers on unlocking students' potential


Millions of Americans left their jobs in September, and one reason is unhappiness. They don’t feel connected to, or fulfilled by, their work. Indeed, more than one-third of Americans are in jobs that don’t match their skills — a problem that drives job dissatisfaction.

In a column in Governing, Charles Koch Foundation (CKF) Executive Director Ryan Stowers says educators can stem the tide of resignations and unlock human potential by shifting how they think about postsecondary learning. “We need to explore how education can truly become an opportunity for everyone to discover their aptitudes and gifts,” Stowers says.  

Americans want this change, Stowers notes. According to a CKF survey, 61 percent of Americans believe universities should do a better job of changing to meet students’ needs. 

This shift in thinking must begin by abandoning the notion that learning success is measured by seat time and credit hours. That outmoded approach “loses sight of what matters most — passions and aptitudes that are unique to each individual,” Stowers argues.

Innovators like Achieve PartnersArizona State University, the Mike Rowe Works Foundation, the SkillUp Coalition, and Western Governors University are creating new learning pathways for students who want an individualized approach. These examples “point to a dramatically shifting landscape connecting education and work — one that demands that educators provide flexible, adaptable learning opportunities for students on an ever-expanding range of pathways,” Stowers concludes.

Read the full column.

The Charles Koch Foundation supports educational opportunities that respect the dignity of all learners, foster a diversity of approaches, and are open to the free flow of ideas and innovation. Learn more about how we help all learners unlock their potential.