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It’s no secret that the world is transforming quickly.  Uber and Airbnb are democratizing transportation and travel, respectively.  Netflix is giving audiences content they want, and GE is leading the industrial Internet.  Although the employer community, including entrepreneurs, is changing fast, K-20 education has stayed the same.  The consequence?  Students are not career ready.

 By 2020, almost two-thirds of all jobs in America will be high-skilled and require 123 million workers, but only 50 million Americans will be poised to fill those jobs.1 So what does industry require?  According to a major IBM survey of more than 1,500 chief executive officers from 60 countries and 33 industries worldwide, chief executives believe that, more than any other quality, “…successfully navigating an increasing complex world will require creativity.”2

One way to foster creativity and engage stakeholders in preparing students for careers is through an education ecosystem – a collaborative of schools, businesses, universities and community organizations focused on preparing students to meet the changing demands of the workforce.   An ecosystem model encourages an exchange of learning between educators and industry in order to best leverage resources giving students access to an array of high quality career pathways that combine demanding academics with project and problem-based learning opportunities. 
An ecosystem approach engages all stakeholders in bridging the skills gap. This approach incentivizes education advocates to cultivate in and out-of-school learning environments that foster creativity and promote career readiness. In committing assets and resources (human, financial and physical), the ecosystem might consider these actions:   
Provide opportunities for K-12 students to collaborate with post-secondary education students, corporations, creative entrepreneurs and artists to address issues related to everything from healthcare, urban revitalization, global warming and systemic kinks embedded in the US political process.3

Transform learning environments. The research suggests that, in order to truly prepare students not just for college but careers, the new classroom should look less like a traditional learning space and more like Googleplex, the corporate office complex of Google, Inc.

Integrate art and design thinking throughout the curriculum to encourage the flexible thinking and creative problem solving needed to answer today’s most multifaceted and urgent challenges.

Demonstrate value for diversity.  Consider the unique learning needs, talents, and abilities of all students.  Expand metrics for success beyond college-prep tracks to include students who, for whatever reason, do not fit into that box. Ensure cultural relevance and avoid gender bias in curriculum design, discipline policies and career counseling.
We’re living in a time where innovators are attacking tumors with electricity and T cells.   Companies are totally reimaging everything from credit and student loan choices to marketing decisions and package shipping options.  We have a duty to prepare our young people for the increasingly complex world.  If we pay attention to what industry wants, while focusing on inclusion for students and collaboration among key stakeholders, we will surely bridge the skills gap to connect learning to livelihood.
Contact Jennifer Bianchi for more information on the work Jennifer is doing with exploring the ecosystem approach in conjunction with South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics and Science.
  1. Gordon, E. (2009). The global talent crisis. The Futurist, 43(5), 34 IBM (2010).
  2. IBM Global CEO Study:  Creativity selected as most crucial factor for future success.  IBM 2010 Global CEO Study.
  3. Rhode Island School of Design

Upcoming Events

April 28, 2016
2017 Charleston STEM Festival Kick-Off Event
More Info

September 26 - 28, 2016
The Next Steps Institute:  "Next Steps for STEM Learning and Leadership In and Out of School"
Charleston Convention Center, Charleston, SC

Visit STEM Linx to learn about more STEM events and opportunities around the state.

What S2TEM Centers SC clients say about their Professional Learning Experience...

"There is always a rich learning experience waiting at S2TEM
Centers. The experience always confirms the need for hands on science explorations that extend into other content areas."

Marian Marlowe, STEM Coordinator
Manning Elementary, Clarendon 2
 Instructional Materials Support
The S2TEM Center helped shine new light and ideas of creative ways to increase math instruction and students understanding while making math even more exciting and fun.

Charlene High, Assistant Principal
Batesburg-Leesville Primary, Lexington 3
Math Professional Development - Numeracy
"I am a much better science teacher because of this course!!! Highly recommend it!!!"
Kerri Loadholt, Teacher
Varnville ES, Hampton 1
K-2 Science Standards Training
Copyright © 2016 South Carolina's Coalition for Mathematics & Science at Clemson University, All rights reserved.

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