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It is estimated that organizations in the United States with 100 or more employees spend approximately $60 billion annually for employee education. This estimate does not include the costs of informal on the-job education, nor does it include indirect costs, such as the wages and benefits paid to employees while they are participating in educational programs (Thompson, ND, para.1).

Thompson goes on to note that many corporations have created their own in-house corporate colleges as a means of addressing market-driven needs not satisfied by traditional colleges and universities. Often, these corporate education initiatives have proven cost prohibitive, because they don’t align with the core competencies of a corporation. Consequently, corporations have partnered with for-profit colleges and universities to craft specific degrees and certification programs geared to the needs of the company.

The Jack Welch Management Institute was developed in 2009 by former GE CEO Jack Welch in partnership with Chancellor University to create a business school aimed at providing leadership training to managers and executives. The institute launched in June 2009, and classes began in January 2010. In April 2011, Welch approached Strayer University to discuss moving the institute to the university. The deal to acquire the institute closed in December 2011 (Wikipedia, Jack Welch Management Institute).

The future face of higher education that addresses market-driven needs will look more like The Jack Welch Management Institute rather than Harvard University. Such educational initiatives will become reminiscent of the “Finishing Schools” of the past. However, contemporary Finishing Schools won’t polish and position ordinary citizens for entry into the aristocracy, but provide competitive advantages to offset the scarcity of thought leaders, intellects, and scholars who will tackle the shortcomings of artificial intelligence (IA).

The Biggest Skills That New Graduates Lack

A new report from PayScale, a provider of on-demand compensation data and software, in partnership with Future Workplace, an executive development firm, reveals that while 87% of recent graduates feel well-prepared to hit the ground running after earning their diplomas, only half of hiring managers agree with them (Dishman, 2016, para. 2). Despite the perspectives of graduates and hiring managers, Dishman reported that 51% of graduates are underemployed.

“Graduates need strong communication and problem-solving skills if they want to interview well and succeed in the workplace, because effective writing, speaking, and critical thinking enables you to accomplish business goals and get ahead,” Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace, said in a statement. “No working day will be complete without writing an email or tackling a new challenge, so the sooner you develop these skills, the more employable you will become,” Schawbel adds (Dishman, 2016, para. 7).

People at school, student raising hand and asking question to professor during class in college, Law School, University of Havana, Cuba

 

Creating Profit Centers Through Education Thought Leadership

Educators and managers were asked in an independent survey conducted by Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, “Do you think that students entering the job market would have an advantage if they have created articles, blogs, books, videos, and etc…that tackle an industry problem?” Over 96% of respondents felt that students with intellectual property had a better chance of getting the best jobs over students who didn’t possess any intellectual property.

However, there is an ongoing debate raging as to whose responsibility it is to prepare college graduates for today’s workforce. 

According to current statistics, skills and education gaps are slated to widen. It’s not that educators aren’t contributing in some measure to close these gaps for the future workforce. Contrarily, educators merely don’t have the real-world education and experience necessary for true education reform. If educators have never taken a business course, rarely read The Wall Street Journal, and never engaged in any entrepreneurial pursuits, how could they be expected to merge traditional teaching with the needs of the marketplace?

Whether educators are motivated to become go-to solution providers within the education field, assist students in gaining a thought leadership advantage, or become thought leaders within a new profession, educators should establish an education thought leadership presence on the internet.

To create profit centers through education thought leadership, educators and managers will have to do three things.

1. Adopt a critical thinking model that solves business and academic problems.

2. Learn and teach students how to create intellectual property from solutions derived from the critical thinking model.

3. Create e-portfolios that showcase intellectual property on social media sites like LinkedIn.

The location of these profit centers have to be closest to where the action and challenges lie. Pilot program sites may include high schools, colleges, universities, and corporations. The Jack Welch Management Institute is an excellent benchmark for instituting educational thought leadership where the direct need for critical thinking, decision-making, and problem solving skills exists. Additionally, long-distance learning has to be a critical part of the program.

If potential profit centers can’t be identified immediately, educators and managers can begin imparting education thought leadership skills by doing the following.

First, determine the pain points that currently exist within a given profession or industry. Every profession and industry has some problems that need to be solved by using diagnostics, analyses, and syntheses. By reading periodicals and industry magazines, students can become aware of the challenges within a profession and begin documenting possible solutions through a critical thinking method taught by educators. Currently, the two leading critical thinking models are RED and the IBAR Critical Thinking Method. The best way of evaluating the value of a critical thinking method is to determine if it produces a feasible outcome. In other words, an effective critical thinking method should set the practitioner up to create intellectual property that solves specific problems or the method is merely a mental exercise. With corporate managers demanding employees with better decision-making and problem skills, intellectual property derived from an effective critical thinking method is a great way of making the case.

Second, use different formats to document solutions for creating intellectual property. Articles, books, podcasts, and videos are great formats for creating intellectual property, as well as establishing a track record. In fact, what better way is there to connect with corporate managers and decision-makers than to interview them for independent research and forward the findings to them directly? By acting like education thought leaders within an industry, students are demonstrating that they are “movers and shakers” who don’t wait around for opportunities to emerge, they actually create them.

Finally, use social media platforms to publish works, particularly within industry-related LinkedIn groups. Social media allow students to broadcast industry solutions exclusively to the individuals most affected. The beauty of social media is that students only need one influencer to recognize the value of their offerings to gain traction. Additionally, students can build a total education thought leadership strategy on LinkedIn, which places all intellectual property in one location. With over 450 million LinkedIn users, students can create an information ecosystem and never leave the LinkedIn domain. Students can then create personal websites as backups for their LinkedIn e-portfolio as a knowledge management system. Where individuals once had to rely on “peer reviewed” journals and other media to position themselves as experts, social media allow individuals to publish well-researched articles for the world to read and respond.

Educational reform, skills gaps, and the value of a college education will continue to be discussed in the coming years. If educators and managers innovate and systematize educational facilities to reflect profit centers that produce market-driven and measurable results, not only will they upend the status quo, but they also will reinvent the face of education in a competitive and economic world.

Edward S. Brown, M.S.

 

References

Dishman, L. (2016, May 17). These are the biggest skills that new graduates lack. Fast Company. Retrieved from: https://www.fastcompany.com/3059940/these-are-the-biggest-skills-that-new-graduates-lack.

Jack Welch Management Institute (ND). Wikipedia. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Welch_Management_Institute.

Thompson, G. (ND) Corporate colleges-The evolution of corporate colleges, the decline of corporate colleges, corporate universities, conclusion (N.D.). State University.com. Retrieved from: http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1886/Corporate-Colleges.html.