Life Long Learning - The Answer To The Jobs Question, StupidEdward Abeyta | Associate Dean for Community Engagement and Director of Pre-Collegiate and Career Preparations Programs, UC San Diego
Jobs are the central topic in the media and on our world-wide leaders’ “global mind.” There are many ways to address the global economic crises but having the faith in our political leaders to implement a solution is highly unlikely given their own jobs are at risk and many times they think with the wrong brain – the brain tied to their funding streams. One solution to creating jobs and a sustainable workforce is based in the continuing education system embedded within almost any higher education institution in the country. The answer to the jobs question is life long learning, stupid.
Continuing education has been doing what many states and colleges have been unable to accomplish over the past 10 years – Survive! Most recently, due to severe cuts in state funding, campus administrators are starting to explore the continuing education business model further. They are not only exploring how to manage the business of education but how to leverage the educational programs they offer for their graduates. A good example is the LAUNCH program at the University of California, San Diego Extension. The LAUNCH program was designed to ensure graduates’ first step into the workplace puts them on the right path to career success and it is meeting that objective.
UC San Diego has always been an innovator and leader in higher education. Now they are paving the way for undergraduates to successfully transition into the modern workplace armed with their degree and a certificate from UCSD Extension at no cost to the student. Upon graduation, students are armed with their undergraduate research skills coupled with the applied skills taught at Extension.
The LAUNCH program has been a key to success for hundreds of graduates like April Harter, who earned bachelor’s degree in communication in March 2009 coupled with a professional certificate in sustainable business practices from Extension via the LAUNCH program in that same year. Upon graduation she had landed a job at Scribe Communications. In one year she was named the director of social media and later named as the 2010 New Public Relations Professional of the Year (PRSA). April credits her rapid success to hard work and applied the knowledge she gained at UCSD Extension, noting “the networking with other adult professionals in class was key in giving me a leg up on other college graduates.”
Technology is evolving at a speed where it seems that the human race cannot keep pace with innovation. If we are to prepare students and our workforce of today for the world of tomorrow, then we must teach them to adapt to new ideas by helping them explore innovative concepts on their own. At continuing education programs across the country, educators are teaching students at various life stages the life long learning skills that will enable them to manage change and equip them for current and future jobs that don’t exist yet.
The American philosopher John Dewey offered sage advice years ago when he said, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” For our job recovery to work, it is about implementing the mindset and tenets of life long learning.
That’s the answer to the jobs question, stupid.
Author Perspective: Administrator