Creating a 21st century education system that prepares students, workers, and citizens to triumph in the global skills race is the central economic competitiveness issue currently facing the U.S., according to a new report released by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
The report, "21st Century Skills, Education & Competiveness," finds that the United States, in order to be globally competitive and for states to attract growth industries and create jobs, requires a fresh approach to education that recognizes the importance 21st century skills play in the workplace. The report is sponsored by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Ford Motor Company Fund, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, and the National Education Association.
While the global economy has been changing, the United States has focused primarily on closing domestic achievement gaps and largely ignored the growing necessity of graduating students capable of filling emerging job sectors, according to the report. This remains a legitimate and worthy agenda but still dangerously discounts the global competitiveness issue.
"Equally important to the domestic achievement gap is the global achievement gap between United States students - even top-performers - and their international counterparts," said Paige Kuni, worldwide manager of K-12 education for Intel Corporation and chair of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. "Quite simply, for the United States to stay economically viable and remain a world leader, the country must make closing all achievement gaps a national priority."
Abroad, developed and competing nations have focused on imparting a different set of skills - 21st century skills - to their graduates because these skills increasingly power the wealth of nations, the report asserts. Furthermore, businesses now require workers who can handle more responsibility and contribute more to productivity and innovation. From 1995 to 2005, the United States lost three million manufacturing jobs, but, during that same time, 17 million service-sector jobs were created. It is critical that the United States graduate students capable of filling those jobs and keeping pace with the change in skill demands, according to the report.
The Partnership, the leading national advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills into education, encourages the United States to do a better job teaching and measuring advanced, 21st century skills beyond simply assessing science and mathematics. In addition, the report outlines several actions at the national, state and local levels that the United States must implement to improve economic results and better prepare citizens to participate in the 21st century. For a full set of recommendations and the report, go to www.21stcenturyskills.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=82&Itemid=40.
21st Century Skills Leadership States include Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills member organizations include: Adobe Systems, Inc., American Association of School Librarians, Apple, ASCD, AT&T, Atomic Learning, Blackboard, Inc., Cable in the Classroom, Cengage Learning, Cisco Systems, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Davis Publications, Dell, Inc., Discovery Education, EF Education, Education Networks of America, Education Testing Service, Ford Motor Company Fund, Giant Campus, Hewlett Packard, Intel Corporation, JA Worldwide®, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, K12, LEGO Group, Learning Point Associates, Lenovo, Measured Progress, Microsoft Corporation, National Education Association, Oracle Education Foundation, Pearson, PolyVision, Scholastic Education, Sesame Workshop, THINKronize, Verizon, and Wireless Generation. Organizations interested in joining the Partnership may contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, www.21stcenturyskills.org