At one time in California, acim author was a two-track structure. One track led to college, the other track to a vocational career. Of course some students, after exiting high school with vocational skills, entered the work market and chose to return to college. But, what of those students who never learned a vocation because they were on the “college” track? When California went to a one track system, it failed to recognize that students who had a vocation were more likely to succeed in college. And, that students who had no vocational training were very likely to fail in the business arena if they dropped out of college (as many do). However, for some reason, we have continued to minimize the importance of such skills as balancing a checkbook, paying taxes, maintaining focus and a work ethic in lieu of raising our academic bar.
With the economy in a major dip, as happens every few years, education in California is taking another hit in terms of rising class sizes, fewer educators available to meet student needs and fewer vocational subjects being broached because vocational skills do not get the school the scores they need and many schools are barely able to provide the minimum services that students need.
Whether one wishes to acknowledge it or not, education is no longer an organism that just lives and feeds and thrives because “it should.” As with any business, if education does not adapt to meet the changing needs of their customers, not only will the students suffer, but our long term economic health and vitality will also suffer.
If a student does not learn a focused work ethic, they may eventually graduate from school with a doctorate. The degree will be of little use to businesses who need that individual to arrive at work on time and be able to work within a company budget. I have seen countless companies hire graduates who, on paper, had received a multitude of accolades in academics. Then, when it was time to put that education to work, find an apartment, make commitments, etc., they had no idea where to start. Needless to say this created a very challenging learning curve for both the company trying to survive visible inadequacies and individuals trying to adapt to the needs, vision and goals of the venture they had entered.
Education is not a black and white issue. Within the gray area of these extremes there is knowledge that will profit both the student and the business world they will eventually enter. In order for our education system to begin to prosper, we must begin to look at that gray area and adapt some of those vital characteristics that will provide the synergy between education and business that is needed.
It is important that we understand the disparity of education and business from some of the core elements that are a daily reminder of where we need to start.
How long will that employee keep their job? Would they last for four or six months being late every day, even though they were smart and could produce the expected work? Of course not, my company cannot afford to lose fifteen minutes daily when I am paying someone top dollar by the hour to produce and excel.
The loser in both of these instances is the business, education’s customer. Education systems should not, in addition to providing academic challenges, fail to provide those tools that students will need to succeed in the real world. Otherwise, we will continue to have very over-educated people working at menial jobs because they were swept away by the culture shock when they entered the real world of work and found that they 1) had to produce every day whether they felt like it or not; 2) had to be on time to work and meetings; and 3) actually had to prove themselves and their skills at some point in their work career.
Students deserve an education that will transition them smoothly from an academic environment to a business environment with minimal adjustment. They deserve to learn how the interest on credit cards can impact their future and how balancing a checkbook or keeping records is important. They deserve the right to be expected to excel and overcome challenges proactively and be leaders. In other words, students deserve coursework that will actually apply to the business world they will spend the better part of their lives participating in.
As a business owner, speaker and trainer, I learned long ago that if a person has the ability to see obstacles as challenges, has the wherewithal to think out of the box to solve problems and the willingness to learn and share information, whether or not it will make them the focus of attention, they are an asset and can be taught any of the skills necessary to do an outstanding job.
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