Businesses large and small work with people from around the world. My husband runs a marketing business and he works with people in Italy, Canada, India, South Africa, Pakistan and the United States. These people are organized, highly qualified and excellent at meeting deadlines and bringing deliverables. Some of my books are published by Pearson who works with people in India on page design and on-line content delivery. No matter what the company size is today, there is a possibility of a worldwide virtual workforce at their fingertips.
So what does this mean for students in America and other European countries who are getting ready to enter this flat, global world of work? According to Hugh Lauder, author of The Global Auction:
“The links between education and a modern economy are much more complex than policy makers would have us believe. Education will no longer be the route to good jobs unless we fundamentally rethink the purpose of education. Rounded students are better suited to the modern economy. If we focused on creativity versus rote learning and exam passing we just might surprise ourselves.”
How creative are students growing up in many third world economies? How do students in the West compare to students in the East as far as work ethic and quality?
Lauder traveled the world with his coauthors in search of answers about national skill systems. They realized that their search was more complex: education and the workforce are closely linked to globalization. He explains that through interviewing multi-national executives in companies based in Korea, China, Singapore, Germany, India, the U.K., and the U.S. the common perceptions of globalization is outdated. Westerners have the idea that the “high level” work is done in the West by educated minds with the latest technology at their fingertips, and then sent to the East to be manufactured. This perception of globalization was accurate until 2005 when companies started making some extreme changes.
In addition to a shift in what side of the world innovation is sprouting from, companies introduced digital Taylorism. Lauder explains it as: “taking the knowledge in people’s heads and codifying it into computer algorithms so that it becomes working knowledge for companies as a whole. That reduces the cost of employing high skilled workers and it very often increases the speed.” Lauder uses an example from the New York Times to illustrate Taylorism in the U.S., where it was reported low-level jobs in the area of law, like interns, were being replaced by computers. The changes in globalization have sparked questions on a political level. If countries like China and India are not only successfully manufacturing but also successfully generating new ideas (and all at a fraction of the price compared to Westerners), what “role” does education play in the life of a Western student and their economy?
Lauder concludes: “We don’t see education as just being about servicing the economy. Education has to be much wider than that. It has to be about citizenship. It has to be about inspiring kids about their curiosity and their academic interest and their intrinsic motivation.” To be sure, the ability to be creative, to innovate, to identify and solve problems is outside the rote learning in many schools today. If we want a future workforce which is competitive and ground-breaking, we’ll need to teach and evaluate much more out of the box so that students can think and learn for future demands.
“The Global Search for Education: The Future of Jobs” – http://www.educationnews.org/political/158390.html