07 Aug Time for Lean & Agile Education?
Are We Educating for The Future or For The Past?
It is said by the military that the army you have is fit for fighting your last war, not the one to come. If this maxim is correct are we educating our students for the world as it was and not what it will be?
In NJMC’s world of projects, we are expected to be “Lean & Agile” in our approach to programme and project management. Business as a whole is learning to be “Lean & Agile” because developments in globalisation are driving the pace of change every faster.
However fast paced we think things are now we all need to brace ourselves because it is going to get even faster. There are a number of amazing game changers charging towards us;
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Machine Learning (ML)
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- Nanoelectromechanical Systems
These things are already driving change, but that rate of change will keep on accelerating. Anyone entering the job market today will not be doing the same sort of job five years from now because developments are going to either make that job extinct, or so transform it that you will need a whole new skills set. Do not think that your chosen career path will be unaffected because one of the above will in some way impact you, so be ready. As soon as you enter a role start looking at how it might change, try and anticipate and start skilling-up early. If you are not able to use a crystal ball then consider developing a secondary primary skill and also a couple of actual secondary skills because the more widely skilled you are the more likely you are to be able to generate income.
Given the above is it time that higher education became “Lean & Agile”?
In an age where higher education has been entirely commercialised are three and four year long university courses still the best approach when those qualifications may only have a 5 year shelf life, 10 at the best? In some “advanced countries” it is taking students a lifetime to pay off their student debt from just one degree, so how would they ever be able to re-pay having to take another degree to re-skill in markets where Robotics and AI are driving wages downwards?
Do three and four courses bring newly skilled people to the work place quickly enough to keep up with the pace of change in businesses now driven ever faster by rapidly evolving technology?
NJMC’s Suggestion for a Solution
Perhaps an innovative university should offer a condensed 1 year course, eliminating the long holidays. At the end of that year the student can attain a degree BUT that degree is valid for 1 year and after a year in order to be allowed to carry on using the accreditation the holder must undertake a module of study to earn credits to keep accreditation for the next year. The university will need to offer a range of modules in order to allow the student to quickly shift between job roles as the market shifts. The Universities would have a duty to ensure that the modules offered are kept current to technology developments in Robotics, AL, Machine Learning, IoT, SmartCities etc and research, not just re-cycled from the previous year.
What is in it for the University?
The university can take a punt (the bet, not the Cambridge University river boats)! We will grant you that universities are not known for taking a bet on their students, but for the one 1 year course this could work out very well. When a student signs up for a 1 year degree with annual renewals they get that years education without charge but, the contract they sign allows the university to tithe their future monthly earnings for a fixed percentage of income as long as the degree holder renews their degree via a current module.
If the university provide a good education then their student is more employable and likely to earn. The better paid the job they get the more income the university gets from its tithe. Given that we will all be working into our 70s in the future the potential for long term earnings is considerable, 40 to 45 years.
Now we could see a situation where the universities might argue that putting up the front money for the 1 year degree course puts too much risk onto the university. To this point we have a response, and it is this; Have all the years that universities been arguing that “having a higher education greatly improves the future earnings of their clients” been such a falsehood that the universities are unwilling to to bet on their own product?
The universities in merely asking that question would be making a damning indictment of their view on the value of the products they offer and should immediately raise the question in the minds of potential customers of theirs “If they do not believe in the product they peddle then why should I give them my business?” .
The benefits for the Student & Employers are obvious.
- Employers get new employees to the market quicker because the course is LEAN and the cycling of new generations of potential employees is faster.
- Faster induction into the work place means that student-employees are gaining valuable “real-world” experience alongside the gaining of gside the gaining
- The newly qualified employees have current knowledge, not knowledge already aged a couple of years before they reach the workplace.
- The ability to add new modules each year in new and developing areas keeps knowledge current, applicable and marketable – in other words the degree is AGILE.
- The financial burden is spread more evenly across a career path and because the qualification is constantly adapting it keeps its value.
- The student is kept stimulated by learning new skills so better workplace health.
We have a chance to not only make education more lean and agile but to make it a true partnership between Student and Educator – each having a stake in the other and an interest to ensure they work in and for, each others best interest.
A Lean and Agile higher education system producing a Lean and Agile student+employee for the future Lean and Agile workplace.
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