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Creating A Workforce for 2060

Submitted by on April 29, 2009 – 8:13 amNo Comment

Dr.-Norman-Stephens-wide

The Central Florida Planning Council is leading a long-range planning effort called Heartland 2060.  I’ve been asked to participate on a panel of fellow educators to address ”Creating a 2060 Workforce with Life-Long Learning Opportunities.”  Admittedly, my crystal ball becomes increasingly opaque with each year beyond 2009.  Predicting anything about Florida’s Heartland 50 years from now is risky business.  To gain some perspective on this challenge, consider the changes in our area since 1959 and then amplify those changes by a factor of 2 or more.  You do see my point.

Let me begin with some rather shaky assumptions.

  1. In 2060, most of the workforce will range in ages between 20 and 70 years with the oldest being people who are currently 15 years old and the youngest being those not born until the year 2040.
  2. Most of the workforce in 2060 in our region of Florida will have been born somewhere other than the Heartland.
  3. Most of the workforce in 2060 will have received the majority of their formal education elsewhere, outside of our area.
  4. Nationally, if current trends continue, less than five percent of jobs in 2060 will require only a high school diploma, and there will be very few opportunities for fulfilling careers for those without such a basic credential.
  5. About 40 percent of jobs in 2060 will require a baccalaureate degree or advanced professional training.
  6. The remaining 55 percent of jobs will require specialized training and educational credentials beyond high school but not necessarily a baccalaureate degree.
  7. Most jobs in 2060 will require continuous training and education to keep pace with changing technology and new job requirements.
  8. Most members of the 2060 workforce will change jobs and even careers multiple times during their lives.
  9. In 2060, many of the residents of our region will be employed, at least partly, by employers located outside of our region, and their work will not directly serve or benefit our region, but their earnings and expenditures will directly impact the Heartland economy.
  10. Most of the jobs of the Heartland in the 2060 workforce do not yet exist and no one really knows, with any certainty,  what those jobs will be or what knowledge or skills they will require.

Accepting these assumptions and admitting their fuzziness, the formal educational system should teach learning skills.  People who know how to learn, have the inclination to learn, and are willing to invest in their own future by working very hard to pursue their dreams are more likely to be successful in the 2060 workforce.  Additionally, we need to teach more about our brain and how to protect it from damage and how to optimize its health.  There is a common core of knowledge that workers, and all citizens, should have to survive in a highly complex society.  This includes the obvious studies of history, language, science, and the humanities, but there is also a real value to a diversity of interests among people in a workforce and even the larger society.  People will also need specialized knowledge to be successful in their jobs and careers and this will require continuous upgrading and retraining because the work will change.  Basic literacy and numeracy will be an essential requirement for a productive life in 2060 just as it is today.  We need to teach physical and emotional wellness as well as social skills for teamwork, group problem-solving, negotiating, and collaborating.  Finally, it is important that we teach for leisure pursuits and living a balanced life–whatever that might be.

So, how can we provide and deliver lifelong learning opportunities in the Heartland?  The formal system of education necessary to prepare a workforce for 2060 should include “cradle to grave” learning support such as the following.

  • Formal parenting educational programs               
  • Pre-schools and school readiness programs
  • Public and private elementary and secondary schools
  • Higher education colleges, universities, and training centers
  • Business education partnerships and collaboratives for continuous training
  • Individualized asynchronous learning and credentialing systems for lifelong learning

Easier said then done.  Welcome back to today’s reality.

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