“We are facing a crisis like we’ve never faced before,” Sanjiv Yajnik, Capital One’s president for financial services told North Texas business leaders and educators on Tuesday.
The problem? Technology is rapidly reshaping the world’s economy. And the American education system isn’t turning out enough workers with the skills they’ll need to compete for the jobs of the future.
Education is an issue that public officials and — increasingly — business leaders are paying attention to, not just as a matter of social policy, but as an economic imperative.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who was a keynote speaker at the Workforce of the Future event, said that too many American students are heading to college without being prepared.
While Duncan said politics and the molasses speed of bureaucratic change have been big obstacles to bridging the gaps, employers can help by more closely partnering with educators to shape curriculum according to their needs. Parents, too, need to demand education reform.
Neil Matkin, president of Collin College, said he sees building educational programs to be a “value proposition” for students as crucial. For example, he said, the state has a “huge nursing shortage.” The community college already has a nursing program, and is working with the legislature to allow the school to offer a full bachelor’s of science in nursing for $10,000. Then, students are qualified for jobs where they can make roughly $65,000 a year.
Former First Lady Laura Bush was also a keynote speaker at the event. As a former librarian, she said, literacy has been a cornerstone of her work. “We live in a real knowledge-based economy,” she said. “That makes it almost a moral imperative for parents to make sure your children and children in your neighborhood are educated.”
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