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Notes from the WDI Plenary Session

Posted By Karen-Michelle Mirko, Thursday, January 30, 2014

My live blog notes from the WDI conference.  

Experiential learning and budget responsibility

William Law, President of St. Petersburg, welcomed the crowded room to the conference and St. Petersburg. He called the work at community college, "noble work” and said the Workforce has never been more important.  His school provides an interesting entrepreneurial experiential opportunity to his student government leaders. They have budget line responsibility for student fees. The leaders decide how the money is allocated and present a plan to the President. I love this hands on, real time, impactful opportunity the students have to learn and also make a difference on their campus. 

Redesign, Reinvent, Reset

Walter Bumphus, President and CEO of AACC spoke on the 21st-Century Commission and its three Rs:

  • Redesign students’ educational experiences;          
  • Reinvent institutional roles; and
  • Reset the system to create incentives for student and institutional success.

There are seven recommendations around the Three Rs, each with detailed implementation guidance in the report. Check out the report here.

The Importance of Technical Education in Reclaiming the American Dream

Nicolas Pinchuk, Chairman and CEO of Snap-on, Inc, and Skills for America’s future opens his talk by saying "I am not an academic, I am a tool maker." Pinchuk talked about the shrinking middle class and how "our greatest weapon is career and technical education.” Pinchuk emphasized that "we succeed by the efforts of everyday people doing extraordinary things.”  

30% of manufacturing jobs disappeared in the last 20 years. The most important factor in opening a plant in an area is a capable workforce. In America, 6k jobs are left open because they is not a qualified workforce. Pinchuk says the answer is education.

1.       Community colleges need to be reimagined. Curriculum needs to match what jobs are out there. Colleges need to match what is going on in industry. Educators have to consider how they are evaluated. The goal of education is not a degree but a career. Professors should evaluate yourself in practical terms.

2.       We need to rediscover the American Dream. We also need to rebrand manufacturing.  "We have lost the respect of the dignity of work.”

3.       We need support of leadership at city, state and federal levels. Technical education needs to be prioritized.

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