The most compelling part of the agenda in the second meeting of the Career Pathways and Technical Education Advisory Task Force was the panel discussion of four Mn Employers who openly and honestly discussed the present and future work force needs and expectations of employers.
The panelists were:
Erick Ajax, Co-owner of E.J. Ajax and Sons (Manufacturing); Guy Finne, Recruitment Advisor for Mayo Clinic (Medical); Sanjay Kuba, GSS Infotech (Technology) and Lowell Pratt, Pratt Homes (Construction).
There were four reoccurring themes throughout the discussion. I will paraphrase.
First, the skills employers need are the soft skills which includes things like: appropriate dress, team work, respect, ability to pass a drug test and being on time.
Second, they need employees that are life-long learners – meaning they have a passion for learning and that it shows in the workplace – and this includes that they can teach themselves.
Third, certification and licensure programs are required for many of their jobs.
Fourth, the school system needs do a better job of helping students determine a career pathway that employee can feel passionate about demonstrated in the work and work environment.
It starts with career awareness and exploration.
My thoughts, not until our schools find an effective way to teach, role model and require the soft skills will our education system be viewed as effective. We are not alone in this problem. But it is an area that requires our attention and action.
To take on these challenges it will require state wide leadership. We have a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips and now is the time to harness the knowledge and create a new system, address the new normal and create 21st century schools. There is no question we will have to use technology to harness the energy and passion of our students. Technology is the tool that provides the hope that that we can leave behind an era of “I will follow in my parents footsteps because I really don’t know what other careers are out there”. Our future – their future depends on it.
All materials referenced in the summaries of the Career Pathways and Technical Education Advisory Task Force meetings are available at this link:
The next meeting for the Career Pathways and Technical Education Advisory Task Meeting is Monday, October 2 at the Department of Education from 1 to 4pm