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Navigating to the Future: A University Roadmap to Deliver 21st Century Skills

Accelerating technological advances, population changes across many dimensions, greater economic, social and climate volatility and the changing nature of the workplace are but some of the pressures on universities to transform to meet the needs of a digital world.

In our new publication,

Delivering 21st Century Skills, USU summarizes these challenges, outlines the skills needed for all learners and what that means for University practice, and concludes with promising examples of change. Here’s a taste of things to come.

What’s needed for the future ? Human skills.

Critical thinking, communication, collaboration, learning and creativity to name a few of them.  Our human ability to connect is what is needed for learners to navigate careers over a lifetime and bring their best selves to work – be it in a workplace, on a gig or building a business.

What needs to change to get there?

In a nutshell, a more agile curriculum with more coherent on and off ramps for a broader and more diverse cohort of learners, renegotiating competencies and credentials in an already complex validation system, forging new and re-envisioning partnerships with employers, governments, communities and many other stakeholders, and rethinking affordability, pricing structures and business models.

Who’s Innovating?

Florida International University’s Urban Potentials Lab prepares non-traditional and Pell grant-eligible learners for high demand, middle-skills jobs in a variety of industries.  These 14-week programs are designed to prepare learners for jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. and pay a living wage.

University of Memphis partnered with FedEx to provide their workers, 50% which do not have post-secondary credentials, with a pathway starting with high school equivalency leading to a college degree.

University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee created the Connected Systems Institute to partner with industry to conduct research on digital manufacturing, including a state-of-the-art testing facility and approaches to preparing a skilled workforce for this industry. The partnership crosses multiple disciplines on campus and includes the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Ansys.

And many more. Check out the report.

Photo Credit:  Metamorworks/


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