Lifelong Learning: Education’s Newest Trend
Community college often gets a bad rap. Common stereotypes scapegoat alternatives to four-year institutions as educationally “less than.” But as the economy changes, it’s clear that community colleges will play a key role in keeping the workforce up to date. One community college is trying to change that perception—and get students great jobs by aligning programs with the area’s economic priorities.
The Community College of Rhode Island is New England’s largest two-year college, and it’s reorganizing its continuing education programs to work with companies in the state so they can provide well-trained students for lucrative jobs. A recent collaboration with Infosys, an overseas information company, could net up to 500 student jobs with a median salary of $79,000.
To keep up with technology—specifically artificial intelligence—experts say that a third wave of education is needed to keep the workforce current. Between the rise of automation and the new “gig” economy, the need for workers is changing dramatically. As Jeffrey Selingo writes in The Atlantic, instead of just focusing on a one-time secondary education experience, the idea is to keep training throughout one’s lifetime.
Brent Parton, deputy director of the Center on Education and Skills at the think tank New America, sums up the trend: “We tend to think of retraining now as something that follows a traumatic event—a job loss, for instance,” he said. “We’re entering a stage where retraining will be the day-to-day world that people live in. It will be part of their daily life and a much quieter set of traditions compared with now.”