The 40 Year Engagement
Post: Dec 1, 2016
By: Megan Weekley
No, this is not the title of a new Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lawrence romantic comedy.
It is the suggestion put forward in a recent Globe and Mail article that in today’s rapidly-changing and constantly evolving labour market, the idea that a student who attends a university for four years and expects to be prepared educationally for a lifetime of work is very much a falsehood. Today’s generation of twenty and thirty-somethings are more educated than ever before, yet they are met with working conditions that are more uncertain and precarious than felt in previous generations. Many millennials are holding down multiple jobs and working without security or benefits. In addition, the nature of work is changing so rapidly that many higher education institutions simply cannot move as fast as they need to in order to properly prepare their students for a lifetime of work ahead of them.
So, what does this all mean?
How can universities and institutions of higher education meet the needs of both their students and the future labour market? For starters, we need to get out of the mindset that we have to squeeze a lifetime of learning in the first 24 years of our lives. The skills taught in university might be obsolete by the time a student is ready to enter the workforce. Universities need to do a better job of engaging their students beyond their undergraduate years, and make continuing studies opportunities available for skills to be upgraded on a regular basis. The university of tomorrow, the article contends, is looking vastly complex and different from the one today. Instead of having the typical 4-year relationship with a student, the future university and student may now have a 40-year relationship of continual learning, upskilling, training, and educational experiences.