Sunday, September 6, 2015

Conflicting perceptions on Education

One of my resolutions, just before this new semester starts, is to not neglect periodicals that come in from time to time and at least thumb through them.  Don't let too much work, of any sort, detract from the professional development of looking through work related periodicals (sounds oxymoronic, doesn't it?).  Well, at least this way they won't pile up in the office ;-).

Anyway, in keepting with this goal (let's see how long I last), I went through the July/August issue of Training Magazine.  This is something I signed up for last year when I wanted to keep more abreast of what was happening in the corporate instructional designing sector.  One of the things that caught my eye was this tidbit at the beginning titled Conflicting Perceptions on Education, which reported on a University of Phoenix and EdAssist report titled Are we playing the same game?: Employee vs. Manager Perception of Education and Career Development.

From the report itself:
Nearly half of employees said their college or university should be responsible for helping them develop specific job skills. However, only a third of managers agreed— a result that is surprising in light of the widely reported skills shortages. Instead, 93% of managers believed that colleges should teach soft skills such as how to think, learn, and communicate—and 75% of workers agreed. In addition, 73% of managers believed higher education should teach students how to collaborate with diverse peers (but only 44% of workers agreed).  (p. 8)
This, among other things in the report, stood out to me in light of this summer's Campus Technology conference, and the keynote by SNHU president who spoke about some widely reported tropes that don't seem to hold water - such as CEOs claiming that college graduates don't have the skills for the jobs in their companies.  It seems to me, at least from this report, that college graduates should have higher level thinking and reasoning skills, something that they should get by making their way successfully through college, but company and job specific skills should be left up to the employer to address.  This to me makes sense to me because the University is not an extension, or arm of, any specific corporation - and front line managers seem to agree with this point.

Another thing that stood out was this: it seems like there is confusion as to whose job it is to prepare fellow humans for career development, with people pointing the finger at each other (managers to employees, employees to colleges, and colleges to...?).  Career development seems like something really nebulous, and something that is subject to change.  As much as we, in academia, want to keep in contact with our alumni, we don't aften have the luxury of being able to do so. Developing a career plan and path is something that is a long term relationship, and it is something that is fundamentally up to the individual to plan and execute based on their own unique interests, goals, capabilities, and backgrounds. The individual has the biggest stake in this and they should take the lead role.

That said, as the report recomments to companies: be a career development partner. The employee may be at the driver's seat, but the company can be the companion and co-pilot.  When a company spends time and effort on employees that are an asset to the company it stands to reason that they don't want to see them leave the company.  It thus makes sense to develop talent from within, to encourage employee renewal, and to help develop career development plans for employees in the long run - that is if you still want them in your firm.

This has been the most management focused post I have written I think in this blog.  Your thoughts on career development and the role of academia?
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