The future of education is rearing its beautifully ugly head in the Gem state.
The oxymoron might best be illustrated by the reduction of potato plants in Idaho. J.R. Simplot is quoted as saying: “We no longer run our potato plants with wrenches and rags–we run them with iPads.”
Jeffrey Sayer is one of two keynote speakers at the 2015 Idaho State Professional-Technical Education Summer Conference, July 20 – 22.
According to Jeffrey Sayer, director of the Idaho Department of Commerce, J.R. Simplot Company reduced its potato plants from three to one, and decreased the number of workers it employs from 850 to around 250.
As keynote speaker to the Idaho state conference of professional technical educators today at the Riverside Hotel in Boise, Sayer discussed the state of Idaho’s
- employment (95,000 deficit in the next 10 years for qualified labor),
- education (“education is the last industry that hasn’t changed, hasn’t adapted”), and
- automation (technical skills to run automation are needed more than manual labor).
A few paradigm shifts marked the occasion.
Quoting a Gallop Poll of 500,000 students, Sayer said that some students don’t go past high school for reasons most wouldn’t suspect. For example, he told the audience the survey found that one student didn’t go on because she didn’t have a ride to school. Another couldn’t afford to be away from income for extended periods of time. Yet another had to choose work over post-secondary education because her parents were expecting her to get a job and pay rent.
Sayer said, “The presence of hope, engagement, and well-being is 30 times higher an indicator of future success than GPA and test scores.”
Because the immediate pressure of earning an income often exceeds the need for a degree, Sayer suggested a paradigm shift: skills first and education second.
“If income pressure is so intense, why not certify skills to raise income of post high school students to $9 or $10 an hour?” he asked.
Part of the state’s target is to encourage a talent pipeline from high school to industry to resolve the shortage of talent that industry follows.
“Our future is in your classroom,” he said to the educators.