#194. New Skills Essential for Global Competition

Posted on | The Agurban

New Skills Essential for Global Competition
American students need to learn a new set of skills, including innovation and cultural competency, in order to be competitive in a global economy, says a report released this month by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which includes education organizations and high-tech companies among its members.
The report states that the United States’ ability to create an education system that produces better-prepared students is the “central economic competitiveness issue” facing the nation. The report is designed to give policymakers a tool to help them work toward creating education, workforce development, and economic-development systems that are aligned toward this goal.
“We think that education as a tool of United States competitiveness is one of the most important issues of the coming decade. This is an important time for policymakers to be addressing this,” Ken Kay, the Partnership’s president, said. “In focusing on what outcomes young people need in the 21st century, you can align so much of your work as government and leaders around those outcomes.”
Schools set up to prepare students for a post-World War II, industrial era must change now to one that supports the information-services economy. From 1967 to 1997, the proportion of the U.S. gross domestic product based on information services grew to 56 percent from 36 percent. To meet the growing demand for workers who understand the information-based economy, the nation’s education system must change from one that is focused on basic proficiency to one that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship and promotes the use of critical thinking skills.
With a “globally illiterate” population, the United States will not produce the workers it needs to compete worldwide. “The rest of the world is catching up with us,” states Mr. Vivek Wadwha of Harvard Law School.
View the entire report at “21st Century Skills, Education & Competitiveness,”.

Source: Education Week (www.edweek.org)