Business, Education Joining Hands for Mutual Operation, Profit

By Case, Patti | THE JOURNAL RECORD, August 22, 1987 | Go to article overview

Business, Education Joining Hands for Mutual Operation, Profit


Case, Patti, THE JOURNAL RECORD


"The job of education is to prepare students for life - a large portion of which is work. Yet today there is a profound mismatch between what the workplace needs and what the schools are providing. So wide is that gap that business feels compelled to enter the education arena in a big way."

- "Re-inventing the Corporation," by John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene.

When industrial revolutionaries such as Henry Ford and Frederick Taylor applied their concepts to manufacturing, the emphasis for the corporation was on muscle.

Ford, of course, pioneered the assembly line in building the Model T Ford, and Taylor developed a management style which atomized jobs.

However, as the industrial revolution makes a technological transition to the information age, the focus is moving from brawn to brain power, John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene say in their book, "Re-inventing the Corporation."

That change is fueling the need for quality education - at the same time financial support from traditional sources is waning, analysts indicate.

One solution - and it is expected to be the most successful - is for businesses and education systems to join forces for mutual benefit.

Corporate executives are realizing their companies' futures are tied to having adequately trained employees. If the school systems are not providing sufficient or appropriate training - for reasons associated with government funding or simply because the technology is changing too rapidly for educators to keep pace - businesses are stepping in and attempting to help.

Meanwhile, school systems and governments are not ignorant of the benefit they can realize from such a cooperative effort.

"Universities and colleges in particular are attempting to more closely structure curricula to the needs of business," according to Neil Dikeman, associate director of the University of Oklahoma center for economic and management research.

Without some immediate action, the "brain drain" - that is, the loss of promising minds to out-of-state jobs and educational programs - will continue, deteriorating the quality of students and workers available, he indicated.

"It is extremely important we educate people that have social value," Dikeman said. "If we are not providing them the tools they need to be valuable, we certainly need to know it and correct that deficiencey in our process."

Among other strategies, internship programs are being developed, and advisory councils are commenting on how to provide "practical education as opposed to academic education." But that process is one that takes the cooperation of business, he said.

There also need to be job opportunities for Oklahoma students once they graduate if the state is going to prevent the transplantation of brain power.

"They are not going to school in one state where they graduate and get $25,000 a year," he said, "when they can go to another state and do the same school work and get $45,000."

Oklahoma business, of course, stands to gain from its investment in education. But corporations that step "into the education arena with a narrow self-interest in mind (are) simply asking for the criticism (they) rightly deserve," Naisbitt and Aburdene assert.

Instead, the co-authors advocate a "win-win" situation whereby all participants benefit from a synergistic relationship.

One of Oklahoma's most flexible and effective means of participating in this partnership is the Oklahoma Vocational Technical Education system, according to state and business leaders.

That system is able to pattern its program to meet very specific needs of business and industry, but it is only one of a growing number of examples of the partnership. …

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