How the Great Recession is Changing Education

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Since the great economic meltdown of 2008, we’ve seen changes both in the U.S. and abroad in the existing educational systems. Economic pressure has caused changes that range from  cost-cutting to entirely new teaching models. But what does that mean for students, employers, governments and teachers?

For students, it means that there will be more choices in terms of higher education. Can’t afford a traditional 4-year degree? How about a 2-year degree at one of the rapidly expanding community colleges? What about getting a certificate in an area that would offer immediate employment and then adding a degree later? How about getting your degree or training online without ever having to leave your home? If you’re an older worker needing more education you might get regular college credit for skills you’ve acquired on the job which will help you get your degree faster.

For educational institutions, it means having to fight for funding while changing your model to expand your offerings to students who may no longer want or need the regular BS or MS degree. You need to think about online learning, non-traditional students, distance leraning, and credit for experience. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will likely become the norm as opposed to a curiosity. Current trends make this very clear.

For  businesses this will mean making  jobs available to people who may possess the skills, but not the traditional piece of paper. It may also mean helping people pay for education to make them more valuable and more skilled. Investing in your own workers is never a mistake even if it costs money in the short run. In the long run it will be paid back in terms of higher retention, higher productivity, and greater employee satisfaction and loyalty.

For governments, funding will need to be increased as the only way to stay competitive and productive is for a society to educate its population. Old ideas about paying for education need to be re-examined and adjusted for the new, faster moving world we now live in. A productive, educated populace is a happy one and happy, productive people mean a prosperous and forward-thinking society.

We have many challenges and problems looming in the future and the only way to tackle them is to give people the tools they need to do so. It is incumbent upon us all that we make our leaders understand this and that we demand better from them and from ourselves.

Image courtesy of www.universitas21.com.

The idea for this essay came from here.

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