The OECD Reports; Making Reforms Happen (2015) and The State of Higher Education (2014) were both interesting reads and although they did not revolve around international education per se, they made a case for the alignment, partnership and shifting of services to accommodate students everywhere. Making Reforms Happen (2015) gave an overview of educational policies applied in several countries around the world. What interested me was this readings focus on secondary education, vocational education and there implementations on higher education and the workforce. While reading, I affirmatively nodded the entire time because from my career services lens and background, they were speaking my language. As the reading discussed, employers, policy makers and education institutions can strengthen the employability of individuals by cooperating and aligning services in an intentional way. As countries around the world face continuous unemployment among young and older workers, employers are reporting that they cannot find adequately skilled talent. In a report I read by The Global Agenda Council on Employment, it says that “in the short term, a key driver of skills mismatch is the limited job opportunities available in many (especially advanced) economies, which are pushing many individuals to accept mismatched and lower-quality jobs. With weak demand, employers may become more particular when recruiting, as they can afford to wait for the perfect candidate or hire over-skilled workers “(P. 22). So in other words, through education individuals develop skills and are capable, however due to the lack of demand in hiring, employers can hold off for the greatest candidates. In doing so, these capable individuals eventually take on jobs that are a mismatch to their skills, further exasperating their shrinkage of on-the-job skills. If you don’t use it, you lose it! Individuals that find themselves in organizations that are a mismatch of their skills, are usually underutilized and the effects on their futures can be deeply affected if this depreciation of unused skills continues.
The State of Higher Education (2014) focuses on the remarkably similar issues faced by higher education institutions everywhere. For us who work in higher education the fundamental challenges addressed are all too familiar. The concern for quality, the struggle to balance modern practices with traditional academic values and college mission, and the push for academic excellence in the wake of shrinkages in resources via governmental and public aid. What I found interesting is that in both articles, unlike the majority of our readings, they did not reference international education. It was nice to abandon our general focus for a week. I also noticed that the OCED has created frameworks to analyze evaluation and assessment in school systems (P. 4). Like the Making Reforms Happen report, they focus first on agendas in primary and secondary education and then categorically apply them as relevant to higher education. I think that this thinking is the strategy to follow when looking to create quality assurance frameworks for higher education. Primary and secondary education should align (seamlessly) with higher education. Each should prepare students for the other, if that is in fact what we want for all students. While it might not seem like it (and this is the major problem with under-served U.S. schools) the classes student take and the activities they are involved in high school play a role in shaping them both a member of society and as a college applicant. Whether they plan to attend a community college or less-selective college, they need to successfully achieve basic requirements to progress to a level of education that can help them to achieve their career goals. This however, is only scratching the surface.
Davos-Klosters, Global Agenda Council on Employment, Matching Skills and Labour Market Needs Building Social Partnerships for Better Skills and Better Jobs, January 2014. Retrieved from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GAC/2014/WEF_GAC_Employment_MatchingSkillsLabourMarket_Report_2014.pdf