The Changing World of Work
What Should We Ask of Higher Education?
National Issues Forums Institute
The Changing World of Work: What Should We Ask of Higher Education?
There is a pervasive anxiety in America about the future of higher education. Spiraling costs combined with seismic changes in the American workplace raise questions about whether a bachelor’s degree is still worth the cost. In a recent cover story, Newsweek magazine asked: “Is College a Lousy Investment?” For a growing number of Americans, the answer appears to be yes.
Today’s students accumulate an average of almost $30,000 in debt by the time they graduate. They will go into a job market that looks especially bleak for young people. Many college graduates are unemployed or working minimum-wage jobs. Still more are working in jobs that don’t require a college credential.
Some of the troubles facing new graduates can be attributed to the post-recession economy. But there are larger forces at work that are transforming the nature of employment in America—forces that colleges and universities have been slow to recognize, much less respond to.
This issue guide presents three options for deliberation:
Prepare Students for the Job Market
Colleges and universities should tailor their programs to the real needs of employers and direct more of their educational resources toward vocational and pre-professional training.
Educate for Leadership and Change
Academic institutions should focus on preparing students to become effective citizen leaders—the men and women who will go on to create the jobs of the future, effect change, and build a better society.
Build Strong Communities
Colleges and universities should harness their power to create jobs, generate business opportunities, provide essential skills, and drive development in their communities and in the region.