Transformational Skills Strategy

A recent Wall Street Journal WSJ research revealed that only 27% of school-age young people believe College or University is for them. What will a world with the COVID virus look like for in-person-classroom education and work when new strains result in highs and lows of infection globally? The competencies required to work under these circumstances are complex and multi-disciplinary. Individuals would need a transformational strategy in a hyper-changing world of technology and machines to ensure continuous employability.

What are the ingredient elements of a transformational strategy for employability and entrepreneurship in a fast-changing world of work? The elements are those responsible for academic knowledge, work skills, life skills, and contextual application using understanding. These elements are critical and transformational because employers can hire full-time employees in any corner of the globe to work as if they are in the same offices if they have the right mix of these competencies. Consequently, individuals must have a transformational strategy, not an incremental strategy to keep pace with change. Here are the elements individuals and families must look for to make decisions about where to get their combined knowledge and skills:

  • An appropriate definition of what is competence? This definition difer from one society to another based on the level of sophistication of work tools and the level of quality employees are quantifiably expected to deliver. Competency can be defined as the combination of academic knowledge, life skills, work skills, and the level of precision required for the contextualized application of the understanding of these combined elements.
  • Pathways System: A pathways system represent a climbing frame for individuals into learning at home, school, work, and play in their communities from kindergarten to Ph.D. and CEO. There are several educational approaches adopted by the education systems and institutions globally. Simply put, we have those focused on academic knowledge, skills, and understanding.  The academic pedagogical content based on theories and prepositions aimed at mental discipline and preparedness for continuous learning has been the dominant design for long. The skill-based approaches have been poorly executed for long, because it is dominated by government policy programs with short lifecircle globally. The result is a pathway that is of less esteem in the market compared to the academic knowledge pathways. A multidisciplinary approach will help students develop mastery of the contextual application of knowledge and skills, using understanding. An education model that emerged in the last century and has become highly successful in leading creativity, innovations, and inventions since the middle of that century. We have seen the difficulty institutions have had moving from one approach in which they are fully-invested to another. While those trying to bring on board the different systems to create a mixture of options are yet to achieve remarkable levels of success. Regional variations of knowledge, skills, and understanding (competencies) requirements impact resource allocation, student’s pipeline, and students’ destinations after their education.  

As a consumer, what your family member needs must be clear right from elementary education choices and ensuring reinforcement of the future you would like to see, which is the purpose of this blog. My objective is to provide you the handholding required to make these difficult decisions to reduce dropout and stop-out.

  • Situated Learning: Organizing competencies to achieve higher productivity has been seen as government responsibility. The world owes the United States a depth of appreciation for higher education management innovations that resulted in highly successful educational models–although cost of living adjustments important to quality assurance have resulted in reduced access to higher education in the country. The per pupil framework in the K-12 sector represent a structure of pricing that will result in private sector innovation. While an open systems of volunteers organized through situated learning approaches will provide equally competitive options for new elementary, secondary and high school education. Desktops are fixed on location computers, while laptops can be moved around like a tablet or phone to different locations with the same stored information and access capabilities. However, a container combines these features and more in accessibility, functionality as a server and desktop, as well as making decisions on your behalf. Digital transformation technologies will deliver immense benefits to all educational models across the global education landscape post COVID.

Situated learning using a cloud architecture container micro-service ensures students learning support can be orchestrated to ensure experts can help students learn important core skills. Organizing education to focus learning on students has been a great debate globally in the areas of resource requirements, pedagogy, instructional methods, and parental involvement. These must be needs-driven approaches resulting in mass customization based on individual student’s transition needs. Students, parents, and caregivers must understand their educational needs when selecting the type of secondary, high school, and college using situated learning criteria. Elements of situated learning consist of pedagogical sources, employers’ involvement, community involvement, and unobtrusive technology platform for orchestrating learning support activities 24/7, and experiential education.

  • Experiential education: After several years of college-readiness-driven learning outcome, the fact that only 27% of young people think college is for them calls for a rethink of how education is delivered. Educational experts believe that the high school to college pipeline may be replaced soon by a system in which young people go to work first, before going to college with the help of employers. Cost of education introduces some factors to be considered under this model. However, benefits from focusing education on students and their destinations after school must weigh more when considering returns on education as a parent or caregiver. This is because globally more and more people still believe education is the only means to achievement. Educational systems must integrate work and entrepreneurial skills into their instructional design processes.

The purpose of situated learning is to establish processes similar to those in which students will be expected to apply their knowledge, skills, and understanding upon graduation and experiential education is a core component of student’s destinations. Programs preparing students for work within the curricula and practice must be well-articulated, funded, and delivered through strategic partnerships. Students, parents, and caregivers must score schools based on the practices in place to support experiential education through extensive documentation. Skills4Industry established insurance for interns in 2007 when one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world expressed fears over injuries. How can you teach color theory in textile without practical color mixing skills?

  • Parity of Esteem of Credentials: At the heart of the arguments in the academic and employers’ circles are the level of transparency in a unit of learning definition under skills-based education that is designed to award competency focused credentials. One school of thought are of the argument that  a unit of learning defined on the basis of what students must be able to do is too narrow and not wide enough to capture the critical knowledge important to perform different tasks in both quantity and volume. A good example, is the statistical standard deviation (knowledge of variance and mean) required to design a pair of shoes, jewelry, and hat for different body forms. In this example, the argument is the amount of standard deviation – variance and mean required by a shoe maker cannot be stretched to cover a first year statistics class. Using the same criteria for a dance performance, outpatient medicine, and surgical medicine courses would render the system less transparent.

The second argument against competency-based education is the use of the Notional Learning Time, which is the amount of time it will take an individual to develop mastery of specific practical skills, in a 10 hours (global standards) time frame. In practical skills task performance, some argue this definition is too restrictive when used as a basis to define a unit of learning based on tasks performance.

The result is a system of education, which when acceptable to secondary education or employers is unacceptable to universities and vice versa globally, reducing the parity of esteem on credentials in terms of exchange-value for employability, pay, and transition to further education. A pandemic offers an opportunity to correct and ensure a monumental change in the path of societies because viruses exploit gaps in communities engagement.

Equitable Access: this means the academic and competency programs must be sufficiently bridged to ensure at any educational level, work, and practice experiences individuals can onboard and off-board learning programs with an award no matter how bite-sized the recognition. Including an education system that transparently recognizes work experience and provides credit to make the experience count towards further education.

Governments worldwide have failed in their effort to bridge these divides important to establishing true education and skills pathways that deliver the work tasks skills employers need. The heavy lifting and the number of years it takes to look at each variable element to establish a world-class integrative competence framework is a high investment. We like keeping our blogs to three minutes read, this is a series that is aimed at helping educators capture the compelling reason to attend the Skills4Industry Digital Transformation in Education Program where our goal is to help you develop mastery of integrating transformational technologies into classrooms to provide students integrative competence. Learn more about our institutions here. Learn more about our learning support orchestration services, here.


  1. By and large, the ideas discussed in this article are already being tested and infact very successfully implemented in parts of Western Europe. The vocational education framework provides the opportunity of different pathways for learners to pursue competencies in their chosen skills set. There has been a successful collaboration between the education sector and employers. This relationship has enabled the employers to become involved in the design of an education framework which guarantees learners are taught relevant and appropriate employability skills. Needles to say, there is room for development and growth within this partnership.

    1. We are aware of the various vocational programs for employability in Europe and elsewhere. Thank you for your contribution. The article is about a framework for integrative competence with a unified pathways system that is far more sophisticated than the vocational/apprenticeships models. I did not use the words vocational and apprenticeship throughout the blog for a purpose, which is because Governments should not be in the business of choosing winners and losers or establishing structures that promote that anywhere on this planet. Unified means a transparent measure for knowledge, skills, and understanding in determining human capabilities for each work task performance. A model for not only determining present capabilities but capable of predicting actual future capabilities to put education on par or ahead of innovations and inventions. The apprenticeship model of employers’ participation is an ad-hoc approach to reduce unemployment and get people into jobs with the belief they will learn on the job and remain employable for the rest of their life. Research shows that is not the result, most vocational pathway graduates get stuck in low-paying wage jobs that are exposed to automation and offshoring globally. Creating a level playing field by raising the skills game to the level of academic knowledge is in doing the job of identifying the quantity and volume of the skills content of every task performed by humans to ensure the right mix of knowledge and skills in each parcel of learning. This is what we call Skills4Industry. Individuals must be able to point their phone at a course description to determine the knowledge and skills content of the courseware. This is what we mean by transparency. Vocational routes as a poor competing pathway have given academics the marketing talking points that resulted in only 27% of school-age young people in the US saying education is NOT for them because they are presented a dilemma. The dilemma is a global phenomenon and the US is far ahead in the skills game than your examples. The dilemma is one in which something (academics) so well presented and expensive does not result in a well-paying job because it lacks skills. While because it’s free elsewhere doesn’t mean the future of individuals and productivity are not involved. Employers say they want integrative competencies (a combination of knowledge and skills) and they are not in the business of training. This is a subject for another blog. Thanks again.

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