Stefan Drew

Conventional Education Isn’t The Path to Employment That It Once Was

At last. A respected educator that recognises the perils that FHE currently faces, and has an answer.

Sir Antony Seldon’s recent article and book gave me hope for the future of FHE. For several years I’ve been writing in this column about the threats I see. I’ve suggested ways to prepare for the changes that are coming. Many people have agreed with me but I’ve yet to see much action. So I welcome Seldon’s book.

Seldon forecasts the demise of exams and lecture theatres and asks if Oxford University will become redundant. Personally, though my thoughts might often be considered as radical, I doubt the latter. But I believe Seldon is correct in forecasting the demise of education as we know it today. And he isn’t the only one. More of that, and some answers, in a moment.

The FHE Change Imperative

Within days of Seldon’s book came the IFS report stating what to most of us was obvious, there is a severe and sustained squeeze on FE funding in England. Coupled with UCAS recruitment warnings earlier this year, the sector should be awake to the need for change.

The Education Change Imperative is not limited to these shores. In the US, respected Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, has warned that half of their 4000 colleges could be bankrupt in 10-15 years. People are waking up to reality and he is being taken seriously by many thoughtful college leaders.

But it’s easy to recognise the need for change, what action is needed?

Leveraged Learning

In a few weeks Leveraged Learning will be published. This book doesn’t come from a learned professor. It’s better than that. It comes from a high school dropout who claims that his return to education, to take an MBA, was his most expensive mistake. The author, Danny Iny, is now a highly successful Montreal based educator. Starting from scratch a few years ago Iny has built an education business that ignores exams and lecture halls. Gone are classrooms and term based education.

Though I constantly hear that education demands exams to prove its worth, Iny’s experience is otherwise. And this isn’t a one man, run it from your spare room, type of business. His business, Mirasee, employs an increasing number of staff and already has a turnover matching some of my UK FE colleges clients. It teaches business and course building and is the shape of things to come.

I’ve worked with Danny Iny since before the inception of Mirasee. His thoughts on education are not traditional. Traditionalists will not easily accept his views. But his business is thriving whilst colleges are under threat.

“Progress continues its inexorable march forward. What was “best in class” gradually becomes the baseline for “good” service”

We no longer think of electricity in our homes as being best in class. It’s the norm. More recently high speed Internet connection was unusual, but is now expected. “The old ways exist” Iny says, “because no one has gotten around to replacing them.”

And education isn’t keeping up says Iny. “many of the hottest jobs today, didn’t exist as recent as 15 years ago”. 15 years ago a degree was the passport to a career that guaranteed a good standard of living. Today many degree holders are stacking shelves, not reaching the potential a degree implies.

Unsuitable education is damaging both students and employers. Reports of university and FE recruitment coming under pressure are understandable where the latter means years of study, a massive debt and a job as a barista, or relying on Uber or Yodel for a minimum wage. For the FE student that is squeezed out by overqualified applicants, for what would have formerly been their employment opportunities, things are no better.

Apprenticeships seem to offer a viable answer for many. But significant drops in apprenticeship recruitment, for whatever reason, are a concern for future youth employment.

Alternatives to Mainstream Education

In previous articles I’ve mentioned a host of alternatives. From MOOCS and video training to full cost training. But I’d be the first to say that, despite each having merit, none provide the whole answer.

In my next article I’ll go into alternatives in a lot more detail. But first let’s examine where we are now .. and then look at what the market wants of graduates at all levels.

Socratic questioning is over 2000 years old and makes both student and teacher think deeply. It has much merit. But so much of teaching relies on the least effective teaching method, the lecture. Why? Well it is controllable. It means we can follow a curriculum and use teaching plans that tell us to move on to a particular topic at a given time. In contrast, true Socratic discourse follows the thought patterns of both teacher AND student. So is harder to control. In an exam based pedagogy, where we have to prove ourselves to Ofsted, the controlled streaming of facts is often preferred by teachers.

Employers, when asked to rank the 20 common factors that they consider when hiring, ranked education at number 20. New York University researchers, Richard Alum and Josipa Roska wrote, “[students] might graduate but they are failing to develop the higher-order cognitive skills widely assumed that students must master”. My own findings are that New York or York, employers can no longer rely on a qualification as being the signal they use to denote a skilled potential recruit. And, sadly, some universities rely on entrance exams rather than qualifications that they say are unable to differentiate between students.

“Incredibly, even as the value of the education signal has declined, its cost has continued to rise.”

Iny quotes tech investor Peter Thiel, “To question education is really dangerous. It is the absolute taboo. It’s like telling the world there is no Santa Clause.”

Iny then goes on to quote Todd Hixson in his Forbes article, “HE is now ground zero for disruption”. Hixson points out the costly issue of the parallel development and delivery of standard curricula by 2000 US colleges and universities. Alongside this he decries the fact that high level STEM courses account for fewer that 10% of all US courses and that the focus is on the degree rather than specific timely courses or skills accomplished.

Clearly these issues are deeply embodied in the land of opportunity. But we are similar. So many colleges developing and teaching the same courses at great expense. It makes me think of Einstein and his thoughts on insanity.

“The only way education can be sustainable and legitimate is to deliver an outcome that is meaningful in the present and future world”

The Budding Effect

Change brings unintended and unexpected consequences. In 1830 Budding invented the lawnmower and the Budding Effect was realised. Lawnmowers gave us close cropped grass and sports proliferated. Bowls, cricket etc are impossible in long grass. But the Budding Effect led to significant employment as a world of sporting and related opportunities opened up. People were suddenly employed making cricket bats and croquet balls and catering for the spectators. The lawnmower prompted spectator sports and television rights! .

Ditto the Internal Combustion Engine and digital innovation. All created new jobs that needed both technical and soft skills. And from the lack of them it’s clear that soft skills are the hardest to teach.

We often hear that digital will destroy jobs. Yet Thomas Frey lists over 100 jobs that will be created. Digital can perform incredible things faster and more accurately than humans. But, ironically, it struggles to differentiate a kitten from a puppy!

I believe education needs to teach the soft skills employers and prospective employees need, and then provide job specific upskilling courses at all career stages. That’s not to say education for its own sake is to be decried. But it doesn’t put bread on the table.

Education Transition Imperatives

Space prevents me from going in depth on this topic. There will be more in a future article. But part of the answer lies in the catering curriculum. Chefs practise “mise en place”. Having everything in its place, where it can be quickly accessed as and when needed.

MOOCS demonstrate this to an extent. So potentially do MicroDegrees and BitDegrees. But it is still the tip of the Change Imperative iceberg.

We need to think radically. Nature favours change to drive natural selection. And we must change.

I’ll explore Transition Imperatives in my next articles but for now let me leave you with a thought from Danny Iny.

“Anything you learn is going to become obsolete within a decade”

I agree with his sentiment though would exchange “Anything” with “Most of what you’ll learn…”

Stefan Drew, FHE Marketing Consultant

Stefan Drew Newsroom Strap

Copyright © 2018 FE News

About Stefan DrewStefan was previously director of marketing at two FHE colleges and for over a decade has consulted with colleges, universities and private providers throughout the UK, Europe, Africa and the US. Connect with Stefan on LinkedIn  

PS In the spirit of traditional exams. Discuss in the comments box below. Your answer should not exceed 500 words!

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Advertisers

Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

CASCAID had a status update on Twitter 1 hour 33 minutes ago

We couldn't agree more, @DeirdreTalks. Thank you to everyone involved. Special thanks to our valued partner,… https://t.co/mgPDYbYvQv
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page