“Are we adequately preparing our students for the 21st century workforce?” Recognizing the need for education reform to better align with a rapidly changing job market, this is a question that continues to be asked. In a recent survey, 126 CEOs were quizzed about STEM and other workplace skills in which 98% said the skills gap is posing a problem for their companies. With the knowledge that 60% of job openings require basic STEM literacy, and considering the impact the skills shortage is having on businesses and graduates alike, the need to re-evaluate our approach is clear.
Highlighting the need for more work experience opportunities for students over their course of study, 70% of the CEOs surveyed consider internships to be the most effective solution to the skills shortage. But with the realization that traditional teaching methods no longer suffice, more immediate efforts are being made to ensure a skills-centered approach within the classroom. Technology focused on better learning solutions is attempting to address the challenge of meeting the skill requirements of today’s workforce with adaptive learning systems making it as easy as possible to facilitate mastery of skills. Incorporating competency-based progression, through personalized learning solutions like Fishtree, students are continuously assessed through demonstration of mastery of core skills and competencies. Keeping the focus on the 5 C’s of 21st century education, competency-based learning offers a better alternative to traditional methods for closing the skills gap once and for all.
A further 62% of CEOs involved in the survey reported having difficulty finding qualified applicants for jobs requiring advanced computer/IT skills. As today’s workforce increasingly demands competent technology users, there is a growing need for more innovative teaching solutions that enhance the learning process through technology. Through blended, flipped and mobile learning initiatives focused on student-centered learning, students are given the opportunity to increase their IT skills while learning in a more independent and skills-focused way than ever before. Personalized learning environments aim to provide students with the skills they need by encouraging and teaching digital literacy, and digital citizenship in an environment that’s self-paced and student-driven. Combining such initiatives with project-based, problem-based and inquiry-based learning among others makes it possible for students to get hands-on experience using the skills central to the workplace.
A learning platform like Fishtree makes it as easy as possible for teachers and instructors to implement innovative practices that focus on 21st century skills. Combining personalization, collaboration, and analytics, the platform allows students to construct their own personal learning paths, continuously assessing them on their mastery of skills. With all resources and performance data under one platform, the move towards more skills-centered education is more achievable than ever, finally providing students with the workplace skills they need to succeed.
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About the author:
Lorna Keane specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.