By Ryan Stowers
Nearly every industry in the United States is facing disruption, forcing employers and educators to get more creative about how they help prepare learners for fulfilling careers.
This discussion is not new. In fact, we have long had conversations about the consequences of losing our competitive edge by failing to fill ‘skills gaps.’ But sometimes we lose sight of what’s most important: the key to attracting and retaining talent is to help people discover what they are good at, and then give them ample opportunities to develop and apply those skills.
Indeed, according to Gallup, Americans want jobs where they can excel. “When people have the opportunity to do work they are naturally gifted at and trained to do, they enjoy their work, find it stimulating, and want to do more of it,” Gallup reported in February. “Workers who aren’t allowed to use their strengths very often seek jobs where they can.”
Work and learning are inseparable.
With a growing number of credentials, students preferences for individualized pathways, and employers’ increasing openness to drop unnecessary degree requirements, it is clear that employers and workers are thinking beyond the transition to work. They are thinking about the integration of learning and work. A survey we conducted last year, for example, found 72 percent of people who anticipate they will need to upskill to grow their careers want an option other than a four-year college or university to do so. Learning happens outside school walls. Moving beyond traditional degree programs will help blend classroom and job-relevant learning in ways people want.
In Driving Transformation, we are proud to partner with social change entrepreneurs who are willing to offer their unique solutions to improve the intersection of learning and work. Like our two previous series, Building a Brighter Future for All Learners and Driving Discovery, we will post contributions to the Driving Transformation series under “Impact Stories.” We hope you will find each part to be thoughtful and provocative and, most importantly, to inspire the action we need to create the vibrant and exciting workplaces Americans need to make an impact on their lives and the lives of others. We also hope you will follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and will share these ideas there.
With high regards,
Executive Director, Charles Koch Foundation
Read the contributions to our Driving Transformation series:
“The future of learning is integration with work” — Sean Gallagher
“Redefining the goal” — Kevin J. Fleming
“How to empower students to live intentional lives” — Rajshree Agarwal
“Helping learners understand how they can impact the world” — Clay Routledge
“Leading with data and heart: Changing the tides of intergenerational poverty” — Steve Lee
“Forget skills gaps: the true problem is skills craters” — Alexander Alonso and Kerri Nelson
“Skills-based hiring can guarantee America’s job boom doesn’t leave Black talent behind” — Maurice Jones
“‘Micro-pathways’: an urgent gateway for community college transformation” – Kathleen deLaski
“A message to my younger self” – Jade Estrada
“Closing the jobs awareness gap” – Roy Spence
“Strong employer leadership needed to upskill Americans” – Peter Beard