As we approach an era of near ubiquity of broadband and universal mobile computing, the pace at which technology is transforming our daily lives is accelerating. We see the impact across nearly every sector: education, health, transportation and even fashion.
Today’s tech transformation is creating a wonderful opportunity to bring ideas to life, and create jobs and wealth—but it is not without its challenges. The economic shift requires us to change the way we prepare the workforce. A recent Burning Glass Report found that 78% of all middle-skill jobs require digital skill and that digitally intensive jobs are growing at 2.5 the rate of others. At the same time, we face a persistent gap, as there are far too few women and underrepresented minority groups participating in the high-tech economy. So what can we do to adjust our education and training models to expand access and promote equity as we tackle our national skills-gap?
In the public sector, existing workforce training programs are taking a hard look at how they match this skills training with market demand. There are some promising examples of innovation here, including the recent recipients of the US Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund. Overall, however, like steering a giant ship, the transformation of our public workforce training programs has been slow.
Meanwhile, there has been promising change and innovation in the private sector to reshape the vocational training model and to meet the new and fast-changing market needs for new employees. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the nascent learning accelerators, such as General Assembly. These are young institutions that provide immersive courses in programming, technology and related design. They are growing at an impressive rate across the U.S. and abroad, yet policymakers do not know much about them or how their experiences can contribute to the redesign of our nation’s workforce training system. Their focus on cutting edge instructional and pedagogical models holds great potential to promote greater diversity in high-tech and other fields.
Fortunately, a new guide to the market, Beyond Bootcamps: Policy Considerations for Accelerated Learning is available. It provides a high-level market overview of this new sector for everyone, especially for policymakers who want to understand the sector, its origins, and Implications for the future.
Exactly how these private sector initiatives will shape policy and practice is not yet clear, but it is certain that they will. It was with great excitement that I wrote the foreword, and I encourage all of those interested in and making workforce policy to read this paper.
A former classroom teacher, Governor Beverly “Bev” Perdue has been a lifelong advocate for strengthening education as a service and profession. Perdue served as the first female Governor of North Carolina from 2009-2013.