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

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3 thoughts on “W7: Cooperating and aligning services for fluid and strategic reform

  1. You make some really good points in your blog.
    I feel that there is a big disconnect between how education is supposed to pump people up to get a better career and in the long run that is not the case. Many people that have gone to college still wonder why they did so if the degree doesn’t necessarily show them real world skills. Quality assurance can only dig so deep and in the end only present numbers just as it is doing now. Hence, I still feel that higher education needs to do a major reform and try and try to change and become what students can actually need instead of a piece of paper they can never use. However, that type of reform would need a lot of time and energy which may result in a lot of problems.

  2. I really enjoyed your post, as you made a lot of good points! I also liked the “Preparing Students for the Future” section of the OECD 2015 Policy Outlook report. I like that the report covered a lot of options for secondary school students, including entering the workforce after graduating high school, seeking practical training through a vocational program, or continuing on for post-secondary education. My main takeaway from this is preparing students for the labor market at various levels of education, including implementing relevant, practical curricula in upper secondary and tertiary education. Regarding vocational education and training, the report specifically recommends “work-based training or apprenticeships.” All of these strategies ease the transition for students as they enter the workforce. Recent graduates that have experience and education will be much more employable than students who have not obtained practical, applicable skills during their education.

  3. Hi there — great post! I was especially interested in reading your thoughts about the importance of seamlessly integrating K-12 curriculum with higher education. Unfortunately, I think we have a long way to go for this. I’m currently taking a class on Education Policy, and the takeaway I’m getting is that the “reforms” of the last decade or so have brought us further away from this goal because of the practice of “teaching to the test”. This is a shame because students who arrive to college underprepared often get bogged down in remedial courses, which they need to pay for and they do not even count towards their degrees, leading many to drop out before they officially “begin” college. If we are seriously attempting to strengthen higher education in the United States, more attention needs to be paid to real reforms in the K-12 level that will get students ready to work at a college level the first day they arrive on campus. That is, of course, easier said than done, but I certainly think that the most recent legislation, ESSA, which essentially overturned much of NCLB, is a step in the right direction.

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