College vs. Career a False Choice for Students

Courtney Williams's picture
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In 2002, a handful of technology powerhouses — Apple, Microsoft, SAP — realized there was a profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they would need to compete in typical 21st century communities and workplaces.

They formed the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which since then has published countless guides, lobbied the federal government and partnered with educational leadership in 16 states to position 21st century readiness at the center of U.S. K-12 education.

What are 21st century skills? Often called "soft" skills, they include creativity and innovation, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. More so than any individual "hard" skill, these are what our graduates will need to succeed in the workforce of the future.

Yet, many of our schools have not made the full transition to address the 21st century workplace. Their approach often resembles vocational education (Voc-Ed), a 20th century public education strategy that ultimately lost favor for failing to stay connected to the country's changing workforce needs and for serving as a dumping ground for "underachieving" students.

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