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Why traditional education is dead and what should you do about it

Traditional education, as in schools and colleges, is pretty much dead. It can’t match the needs of today’s world and business. What should you do about it?

That’s the question that a lot of businesses are asking right now. Especially after seeing the massive hole between available jobs and people with enough qualifications to actually take them. Even by EU estimates, by 2020 there will be need for nearly 1 million additional IT employees. The brightest forecasts though expect to fill about 770 000 of these jobs, probably less in reality.

The reason? The education system can’t provide the huge number of well trained IT employees by this date if at all. Many countries are already introducing education reforms, but even so, it will take them years until they actually start giving the expected improved results. The business can’t wait years.

Calls to revolutionize education have been getting more and more frequent and vocal. “As Albert Einstein correctly observed, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” I am interested in examining forward-thinking education systems and learning models, particularly those in which individual talents are acknowledged and nurtured”, writes Sabrina Bouraoui, who describes herself as passionate about EdTech & DesignThinking, Holacracy advocate and Psychology enthusiast.

The problem

In a column on Medium, she raises a few valid points about the current state of the education system. It is pretty much the same all over the world. So we are all in the same (sinking) boat. The main problem is the “one size fits all” school model. It accepts that one approach and method is enough to teach equally well every child. If the child has an issue with the said model, it is then left with a daunting choice – conform to the model or risk flunking out. Either choices are bad. The first creates a child who remembers only the basics to get the grades to pass the classes and otherwise doesn’t learn anything new. The second can be even more damaging. But that’s the way the school system works, right?

Wrong. It shouldn’t work like that at all. Some schools around the world are already experimenting with a more personal approach to their students. Some kids prefer images, others are better learning via reading and so on. There is a lot to think about and take into consideration.

And there’s more. Then there’s the whole debate about what actually to teach in schools. In Finland for example they have started teaching the basics of coding from the first grade! In Bulgaria last year there were talks about possibly reducing IT classes which are already quite limited to the outcry of parents, educational groups and the business. Some other educational systems are even teaching entrepreneurship.

So, what to do?

This dissonance makes it even tougher for both companies and employees to be able to decide what to do. Should you go to college only to get told you still lack the experience needed for a position, only now you are too old for it? Or maybe if you get into a prestigious college, that won’t be a problem? Both are true. But not everyone can have the luck of being accepted into Ivy League-level colleges or to afford to pay the tuition fees. Plus, for the vast majority of jobs, such high level education is not needed.

Today more and more companies are looking for the skills a candidate has and not the diplomas. They have set up tests in addition to job interviews and are looking at what a candidate can actually do. Companies are also investing more in more in training their employees. Some firms are setting up their own training courses, but most are simply buying them from special providers.

People are also more and more open to the idea of getting certified and see that such certification and actual, up-to-date skills can be much more helpful to their careers than a diploma. Current employees also see that shift and value their positions so they also want to attend such trainings and improve their skills and attain their jobs.

This is why the so-called edtech startups and companies are gaining ground. Udemy, Coursera, Andela are just three of the dozens of edtech companies out there. Some of them provide online and virtual trainings on various topics. Others focus on a specific field. Third, like CourseDot, are aiming to make IT education more affordable and reachable. The CourseDot marketplace combines thousands of trainings into a single place, making it easier for companies to book courses.

Ultimately it is left up to each person and their personal goals and ideas. For the very basics, schools are still very important. But for acquiring and honing specific skills, you will need a more personal approach. Trainings and courses might be one of the best possible options right about now thanks to their vast array of variants and methods.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / GotCredit