I recently had an exchange with Dave Ferguson about a previous blog posting.
Perhaps I am unique in that I try to bridge the university and the
workplace. I have taught in both the workplace and university, working in
business communication, international business, ESL, and business
communication. I actually get upset at the line that business schools
make towards workplace learning (how can you discount years of experience
valuable learning) as well as the growing demarcation I find corporate
trainers are making between "school" knowledge and workplace learning.
One of my interests in the last 4 years (as I pursue a Ph.D. in Education,
because the program would let me focus on workplace learning with writing
and technology in an international context, something the Management
Schools would not allow) has been how best to prepare my students
(especially undergraduate) for future workplace learning. What skills do
corporate trainers assume graduates have coming into the workforce? What
type of learning will employees be expected to do in their career? This
will help me to better prepare my students for the future. I keep reading
the literature that says that businesses complain their students are not
prepared for the workplace, but no specifics. How are we supposed to
better prepare them if we don't know what the businesses expect?
On the other hand, I think that businesses have a real disconnect in their
understanding of the next generation of employees. There are many things
they can learn from this generation and I feel that learning professionals
in the workplace need to start preparing for a new type of worker. After
18 years of teaching at the university level, I see a number of trends
that have effected my students learning. This will begin to penetrate the
workforce at a lag behind the universities. But I don't see businesses
coming to the universities and asking what is happening with their
students (it is easier to say the universities are not preparing the
For example, over the last two years, I have noticed the effect that NCLB
has had on our students. These students (future workers in the next 5
years) are very "trainable". Give them a check list or a list of things
to learn and they will do it. However, many do not take the initiative in
terms of their own learning. One of my students, an educator at a
health-related university coined this type of learning as just in time
learning. Students won't learn something until they need it, and then
they want access to it immediately. I foresee this as an issue for
workplace educators in the future.
I would like to hear from others on both sides of the school/work transition.
- What skills do businesses assume students have? What would you like them to have?
- What are the difficulties new employees have in transitioning to the workplace?
- What skills do new graduates have that are different from 10 years ago? How can these skills be used to help an organization?
- What type of training do you think new graduates will need when they first enter the workforce?