The digital transformation is disrupting business models, national competitiveness, and entrenched incumbents. My question: how do we educate our students to compete in this world?
It seems the days are gone that you can start at one company, work there your whole life, and then retire. Will this mean, as Robin Chase suggested, that we will live in a society of freelancers? If so, then what skills do they need to have?
Looking through the lens of national competitiveness, the solution to this puzzle has huge implications on the “Winners” and “Losers” in the different countries of the world. It seems that we hear constantly about the trouble education has keeping up in America: there isn’t enough funding, the math/science scores are slipping, and we aren’t graduating enough STEM students. .
The traditional answer to this problem has been graduate more STEM students, but I’m not sure this is a sufficient enough answer considering the technology that college freshman learns about becomes obsolete before they graduate. Even if STEM was the answer – university systems and governments move slowly, make decisions that are obsolete before implementation, and rely on knowledge which isn't up to date. Completely opposite of what it takes to compete in a digital environment.
Then what will make a difference in a continuously changing digital economy (here are some preliminary thoughts – however I would love for your comments to be a ‘brainstorm’ of other ways or tactics to adapt the system):
Academic Skunkworks: Educational institution should build small entities internally that offer new classes or certificate programs that are outsides the normal confines of their educational system. They should set up these organizations as separate, flexible, and with a charge to innovate on skills and knowledge that they offer their undergraduates.
Digital Transformation General Education Requirement: They could offer a digital transformation general education requirement. This would not be to teach someone how to code, but it would teach someone about how computer systems interact, what different coding languages look like and where they are used, and then how digital technology has changed how the world works.
Soft Skills: While this might sounds like the opposite of the push for STEM, soft and horizontally applicable skills will be important in a world fraught with frequent career changes because they can be applied liberally to different industries and situations – skill such as leadership, networking (relationship building), critical thinking, and entrepreneurship.
Disclaimer -- I am on the board of my undergraduate higher education institution, so my view of changes that could be made will be through the lens of what public universities can do. The answer might be they will be disrupted by the digital transformation, but I want to look at this through the lens of what changes can be made. I would love your suggestions as if they are complementing I could help implement them.