During the past few decades we have seen a shift from Industrial work to Information technology work. Recently our country has just recovered from an economic depression. This depression was a "wake up call" for many people, as they saw highly educated professionals loosing their jobs. Why, were these educated people loosing their jobs-Did they break the rules, not get along with their bosses, or loose their cool No, they did not have the flexibility, versatility, and cooperative skills that are needed in business for a changing economy. They were educated in a time when liberal art educations, and individualized work skills were taught at colleges. Layoffs were also due in part to the globalization of the economy.
Cheaper labor can be found in other countries, which results in the closing of American factories or a drastic cut in pay for workers. Corporate downsizing, atomization, and an aging population have also contributed to this change in the type of work available (Rifkin 177). As most Americans used to be in the same economic bracket regardless of their line of work, today a worker's real competitive position in the world economy depends on what kind of job they have (Jacobus 253). Education is the key to creating the worker's demanded from businesses today. In aviation and other workplaces today, employers are not only looking for highly skilled workers, but for people who are flexible, work well with others and have good problem solving skills.
Colleges must implement new teaching approaches and offer specialized degrees now, to prepare students for the needs of employers in the information-technology age. A workers must be flexible to be able to change and grow with the economy and the needs of employers is very important in today's job market. "With corporate downsizing and restructuring so prevalent, employers are demanding more of their employees. They must be more versatile and multi-task oriented (Schmiedl 29)." Employees must be able to move from one job to another, and learn new tasks quickly.
The more education they have the easier it is to adapt to these changes (Carnoy 123). Continuing education is also becoming more prevalent for today's workers. To stay at the top of their fields in knowledge and technology, employees must constantly be up-dating their education (Schmiedl 29). Flexibility also ties in with the skill of working well with other people. To listen and interact with others in your profession, you must be flexible or open minded to their opinions, ideas and insights.
Interaction with other employees and being a "people person" enforces cooperative skills. These cooperative skills can benefit the company as a whole, just as the Nobel Prize winner James Watson said "Nothing new that is really interesting comes with out collaboration (qty. in Johnson 26)." These cooperative skills once taught only to management, now must be integrated to the employees, as many management positions have been eliminated. Workers must now possess a "management mentality," so that they can co-exist and work beneficially together (Carnoy 123). Problem solving skills are a necessity for even the simplest of jobs.
A high order of problem solving skills are needed for more advanced positions jobs such as in aviation (pilots), and in computers and other technical jobs. Having the ability to work through problems to come up with a positive end result can be a long and arduous task. The people who have these problems solving skills can organize more learning, and help others to succeed in solving problems (Carnoy 123). Group cooperation heightens and speeds up the time in which it takes to solve problems. It makes for an easier and more efficient approach to problem solving. As you can see the three main qualities of flexibility, working well with others and problem solving are very closely linked.
Workers must be flexible to work well with others, which is important in having better problems solving skills. Missing just one of these qualities dampens the ability of a worker to be the productive employee, which employers are looking for. These skills are not inherent and are difficult to learn. That is why they must be implemented early on in college. For years colleges have been ignoring the power of teamwork and the achievements that could not have been made with out it (Johnson 26).
The problem lies itself within the faculty. It is their job to implement cooperative learning into classes, and make it work. This is not an easy task, which is why many professors have opted to stick with lecturing. Lorenn Walker president of Business Learning Strategies Inc, says, "Every time I am at school or attending training seminars, I am struck by how inactive students are expected to be. Most of the time students simply sit, while the teacher lectures them (27)." It is much easier for students to experience the learning rather than having the answers told to them. "Cooperative learning is the heart of problem based learning (Johnson 26)." Group work allows students to network their thoughts and ideas, which than can be expanded with-in the group.
They motivate each other by sharing their ideas and findings. The flexible gr! oup which works together can find solutions to problems quickly and efficiently, which is key in today's workplaces. Specialized degrees and education provide students with the expert skills needed in today's top jobs. Businesses and companies do not want people with general liberal arts degrees they want specialist in their field. A pilot needs special skills to fly an airplane that he / she can not get through a liberal art degree. Employers are only going to hire a pilot with the most and best qualifications.
This is true in most all jobs that require a college degree employers want only the best. Some may argue that group work is not good because some people do the work and others take the easy road doing little. This can sometimes be true in college classes, but in the work environment, it is rare. Professionals are not going to carry the load for the whole group, and likewise most responsible adult will not let others do all the work. Professional adults do not have enough time to let their co-workers not do their share of the work, they will take action by speaking with the boss. To combat these problems in colleges, professors must set the parameters for the group: The professor must ensure that the student knows he / she is linked with others in the group, so that he / she cannot succeed unless the others do.
Individual accountability however will be judged by tests and teacher observation of the group. The professor will teach the students how to socially interact with each other. Students will have to help others, contribute their own ideas and offer suppor! tive advice. Lastly and very importantly is teaching the group to engage in group processing. This exercise will help the students to find ways to improve their group efforts (Johnson 26). Being taught these group problem solving skills during college better prepares students for the type of work they will have to do in the workplace.
To prepare workers for the information-technology age the starting point will have to be colleges. Colleges educate the school teachers and college professors. The sooner colleges begin to use cooperative learning the sooner it will trickle down into elementary and secondary schools. Thus making cooperative learning a part of students lives earlier, so they will sooner adjust to it's style. College professors must implement cooperative learning now, to teach flexibility and working well with others.
This change is imperative not only to the success of workers but the entire economy. Workers with out these skills are at a serious disadvantage in getting jobs, and keeping them. Carnoy, Martin. "The Changing World of Work in the Information Age." New Political Economy 3.
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"Cooperative Learning returns to College" Change 30. 4 (1998): 26-36 Rifkin, Jeremy. "A Civil Education for the Twenty-first Century: Preparing Students for a Three Sector Society." National Civic Review. 87. 2 (1998): 177-182 Schmiedl, Joe. "Changing the Face of Higher Education" Pacific Business News 35.
19 (1997): 29 Walker, Lorenn. "Hands-On Learning will Produce better Problem Solvers" Pacific Business News 33. 20 (1995): 27.