Higher Education’s Push Toward Lifelong Learning

Mar 22, 2018 by

Schools are moving toward a model of continuous, lifelong learning in order to meet the needs of today’s economy. Corey Brickley

Jeffrey Selingo –

When the giant Indian technology-services firm Infosys announced last November that it would open a design and innovation hub in Providence, the company’s president said one of the key reasons he chose Rhode Island was its strong network of higher-education institutions: Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Community College of Rhode Island.

In a higher-education system that is often divided between two- and four-year colleges and further segregated between elite and nonelite institutions, it’s not often that a community college is mentioned in the same breath as an Ivy League campus. Nor is a two-year college seen as a training ground for jobs in the so-called creative economy, which include industries such as design, fashion, and computer gaming that typically require bachelor’s degrees.

But the Community College of Rhode Island, New England’s largest two-year college with more than 15,000 students, is working hard to change the tired image of two-year institutions as places for high-school graduates who can’t hack it on four-year campuses or for the unemployed trying to figure out what’s next. Led by Meghan Hughes, a relatively new president with an academic background in art history, the college is overhauling its approach to workforce development by better aligning programs with the state’s economic priorities than is currently the case.

“Like many colleges, we tended to be more reactive and slower to respond to training needs,” said Julian Alssid, who started last summer as vice president of workforce development. The college would typically wait for displaced workers to come to the campus to receive retraining instead of intervening before they were laid off. It had advisory groups of employers to provide guidance on certificates and degrees, but they met infrequently, so it would take months or sometimes years to tweak existing programs or start new ones.

Source: Higher Education’s Push Toward Lifelong Learning – The Atlantic

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