The latest jobs report released Aug. 1 from the Labor Department affirms two prevailing trends: Job growth is on the rise. Yet more than 4.5 million jobs remain unfilled because companies cannot find qualified workers to fill them.
While California’s job growth continues to perform ahead of the curve, buoyed by our fast-growing professional services sector, we are not immune to the troubling gap between high-skills jobs and a sizable untrained workforce. If this trend persists, the repercussions for our economic future and our ability to compete globally for innovation and talent will be seismic.
This is where education plays a pivotal role … and why there has been so much investment in recent years in initiatives to stimulate learning in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and Common Core Standards, a shared set of academic expectations for English and math in K-12 schools.
These are steps in the right direction. But there is an even greater need for a more fundamental shift in how we envision education for the 21st century, one that will prepare our young people to succeed in our rapidly changing global economy. This approach is called “Deeper Learning.”
Deeper Learning describes the range of knowledge, skills and competencies students must master to succeed in college, career and life. These include the ability to think critically, communicate effectively and work productively in teams. It’s no coincidence that these are the same attributes that Fortune 500 leaders look for in their employees and that appear time and again in job postings for everything from software engineers and customer service reps to X-ray technicians. In other words, employees across nearly every sector should have Deeper Learning skills.
Not everyone needs to graduate from a four-year college to succeed. But every student should have the same quality education through high school. While the number of K-12 schools that have adopted Deeper Learning has expanded nationally and here in California in recent years, they are by no means the standard. They should be.
What does Deeper Learning look like in the classroom? At the Ambassador School of Global Leadership, a public school for sixth- through 12th-graders in Los Angeles, students are applying the principles of Deeper Learning to their personal passions. One student is learning to program a computer to respond to voice commands. A team of students is sponsoring children from other countries and working to develop a purification system to convert salt water to drinking water.
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