Posted on 01/13/2012 at 10:00 AM by Global Reach

As technology continues to get smaller, it becomes more and more an extension of our being. No wonder Carnevale, Smith & Strohl (2010) provide the following statistics regarding how technology will impact employment for our students:
1.    The more highly educated workers use technologies that increase worker autonomy and enhance their skills.
2.    Access to technology on the job is important to a worker’s earning power.  Even high school dropouts who use technology at work earn about 15% more than those who do not.
3.    Good pay and benefits are linked to the sequence of: post-secondary education attainment, achievement, workplace training, and the use of technology on the job.                                                                         
(Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University)

Daggett, in “Preparing Students for Their Future” (2005) states it most clearly:
The world today is an exciting one.  Unfortunately, America at present is not positioned to maintain the level of leadership it enjoyed in the past.  Other nations have made great strides in a short period of time readying themselves for the future.  America has been unable to keep pace with the changes going on in the world and is finding it more difficult to compete in the global economy.  China, unsurprisingly, is the world leader in clothes, shoes, and furniture manufacturing.  They also lead the world in the production of consumer electronics and computers, meaning they have taken over a very significant sector of the technology industry.  China is now positioned to become the world leader in bio- and nano-technology research and development.  They understand the competition they face in America, Europe, India, and the other Pacific Rim nations, but the numbers are in their favor.  As mentioned earlier, 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in China are awarded in the areas of science and engineering and 90 percent of the world’s scientists and engineers will work in Asia in 2010.  The fact that it costs five times as much in America to employ a scientist or engineer than in China only exacerbates the problem that the U.S. faces.  A highly skilled population willing to work for low wages is a concept that seems foreign to the U.S. value system.

One sector of the U.S. population that really understands the dynamics of competition at the national and global level and the challenges America faces is the business community.  The economic trends became evident to them in the early 1980s with the dramatic decline in the number of unskilled jobs.  Jobs that were once routine and sequential have been eliminated or replaced by technology that speeds production and reduces costs.  Furthermore, the ease with which information can be shared allows businesses to outsource work overseas with a high-quality, low-cost return.  Medium wage, high skill jobs are the standard for today’s global economy.  Unfortunately the high cost of American labor coupled with the vast amount of money required to support an aging population makes outsourcing very desirable to American companies.

The impact of technology on our economy, workforce, marketing and global connectedness is what is forcing us in education to reconsider who we are teaching and how we teach them – are we equipping our students to compete at this level?

•    Teens are online an average of five days a week, two to three hours a day.
•    87% of 8- to 17-year-olds play videogames, the vast majority of them on a daily basis.
•    75% of online teens use instant messaging (IM), chatting with an average of thirty-five people per week, for three hours total

Young people who are growing up using the web and having access to technology are motivated to learn much differently than students in the 1970s – 90s.  And the fact is – they need to be using technology to be better equipped for the future careers.  If they have to wait until college or until they enter their career to learn critical technology skills, they will be behind those competing for the same job from around the world because students in other countries are learning using this technology right now.

Resources:
“The Global Achievement Gap”, Tony Wagner, 2008.
“Help Wanted:  Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018”, Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, Center on Education and the Workforce, June 2010.  Georgetown University.  http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/FullReport.pdf
“Preparing Students for Their Future” http://www.leadered.com/pdf/Preparing%20Students%20for%20Their%20Future%206-05.pdf

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