Friday, June 6, 2014

One Businessman’s View About The Education Of Today’s Workforce

Introduction: I am not in favor of looking at education solely from the point of view of getting a good job, nevertheless, that is a very important aspect of the subject. Because the world is changing so rapidly, it is important for educators and students to keep abreast of how the changes influence the need.  Here are some excerpts from one business executive who also sits on the board of the Council of Independent Colleges.  This is worthwhile reading for educators, students, parents,  and business leaders.


...let’s discuss what a business like mine [UPS] needs from institutions like yours [Coalition for International Education].

Of course ... we want to see people with the basics of smarts and the ability to commit to something bigger than themselves.

We need students who excel at critical thinking ... problem solvers ... independent thinkers who also understand teamwork.

We need global thinkers with an abiding curiosity about people and places unseen.

These are people who want to know how the world works. They understand that a world hungry for the best ideas values diversity over uniformity.

They want to find the connections.  They want to understand how something happening half a world away can impact something happening to a customer down the street.

They need to understand the benefits of global exploration ... how to source and sift solutions and ideas from all parts of the world.

They need the intellectual humility to accept that good things are “not always invented here.”


Here’s one more thing you can help us with: We need communicators.

If there is one complaint you hear consistently about the bright young talent coming into our organizations, it’s that they can write an algorithm, but they can’t write a letter.

We need people who are not only technologically literate in how to communicate ... but also expressively literate in what they communicate.

That’s important because ... in an age of collaboration ... communication is the force that brings the parts together.

Communication focuses them on a shared feature, and gets them moving in the same direction.


A big plus is the ability to speak a foreign language ....

You can debate what learning a language adds to your lifetime earnings.   [DWB: But there is no debate about what knowing a second language adds to one's personal life beyond money.]

But when I see a U.S. job candidate who speaks more than one language, I see someone who had the foresight and determination to put in the extra hours.

I also see someone who sees the importance of making those global connections I spoke of.


We need a new generation of leaders who understand the cost of political expediency.

We need leaders who can rise high above the protectionist debates to see the realities–the inevitabilities –of an interconnected world.

We need people who pursue the benefits of globalization without forgetting that 2.7 billion people around the world struggle to live on less than $2 a day ... and that in many countries, the gap between rich and poor is growing.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan once said that “arguing against globalization is like arguing against the laws of gravity.”

That’s true.  The best and the worst of its impacts are simply facts of life.

The only question: How do we manage them?

The only answer I see is leadership that understands that global possibility and risk are very personal issues.

We must all adjust to the fact that wherever we are, whatever we do, our day is shaped by events a world away.

Source: Kurt Kuehn, CFO, UPS, "Internationalization of U.S. Education in the 21st Century," available online at:
Accessed 6 June 2014.

Lets think together again, soon.

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