Education Professionals Cautious Of Overly Specific Workforce Development

Jan 4, 2019

Workforce development is a hot topic in Indiana, especially when it comes to education policy, but some professionals in the field feel wary of those efforts as they reach further into K-12 classrooms.

It’s one of Gov. Eric Holcomb's biggest priorities. The state Senate’s new education committee chair has also said it’s one of his main concerns, and nearly every other legislative agenda includes the phrase somewhere.

But Indiana University’s teacher education assistant dean Jill Shedd says it’s important schools give kids broad skill sets, instead of focusing on one area.

“Critical thinking, problem solving, that they know how to identify what they don’t know, and how to go find the answers to those questions,” she says.

Shedd says not knowing what various industries will look like in 30 years makes those wide-ranging skill sets especially important.

“For that to be the landscape in which we’re focusing narrow preparation for a specific career – that just doesn’t make any sense to me,” Shedd says.

Lawmakers passed a bill last year to put a greater focus on so-called soft skills, like showing up to work on time and dressed appropriately. Shedd says those skills are important, but focused career development in a particular area, should for the most part, wait until after high school.