The 'Jobs' Motive Of American Community Colleges. Its Relevance For Education In Ghana * Its relevance for education in Ghana
5/12/2012 9:18:03 AM -
How come the devil - all by himself or herself - can find work for countless idle hands, but the hoards of trained economists, administrators and experts cannot? Could it be that the devil is more focused and creative about the task?
The Oxford dictionary defines job as “a piece of work to be done”, “something completed”, “a product of work”, “something one has to do”, or “a responsibility”. Macmillan dictionary likewise sees job as a “duty” or a piece of work “to earn money.”
By those definitions, there are plenty of jobs to go around - such as work to provide handy services and products, or something useful that has never been seen or done before. So, if there are no jobs it means simply that the things that must be done - or can be done - are being neglected. It’s not that there are no jobs; rather “the lump of labour fallacy” (that there is not enough work to go around) has to be rejected outright.
All said, people have a duty to themselves and society to work to earn an income and be useful. With such matters put in the right context, it becomes easier to focus, to be creative and fruitful.
Jobs are created where they are found lacking or missing. First and foremost, the lack of valuable services and products in any country needs to be identified, and prioritised; next, opportunities have to be opened up with the chief intent to train people with the specific skills for meeting those demands. Invariably, jobs demand that skill-sets for particular needs are matched.
India, for example, foresees substantial new jobs and sizeable new wealth. It has discerned about “20 economic sectors in which it expects high growth [and accordingly] has provided seed capital for an industry-led programme to train 150 [million] workers by 2022”, (Economist - Sep 10, 2011).
In the so-called developing countries, there are lots of work to be done, but a good many people merely sit, sulk, wander, and squander precious time. Add the number of unskilled labour and low productivity and a substantial potential is lost daily.
If the essential things that really needed to be done were done, and done well, any developing nation would scale into a developed one. It’s evident. Other nations have visibly accomplished such feats. It’s just a matter of being serious, looking ahead, and planning accordingly.
For any education reform to bear fruit, persistence, skills, productivity, innovation and entrepreneurial abilities cannot be ignored. In the U.S., 2-year community colleges are planned and spread within catchment areas. The state of California alone has 112 campuses that serve 2.7 million students each year. In encouraging all manner of people to select and register for a variety of courses to develop themselves for work, the candidates are routinely asked: Who do you want to be? What do you want to become? What do you want to do?
Selections can be made from practical courses such as Media and Entertainment; Building Trades; Hospitality, Tourism and Recreation; Agriculture and Natural Resources; Engineering and Design; Public Services; Finance and Business; Information Technology; Manufacturing and Product Development; Marketing, Sales and Service; and Education.
Such prompts aid prospective applicants to be sure that what they select is for them - and then persist with the “hands-on” preparations needed to turn interests or passions into productive and self-fulfilling vocations.
The community college concept offers a useful case study for Ghana. One, it offers various career training for associate degrees (in only two years) that prepares people to get in the workforce quickly and affordably. Two, the course units earned in those two years are transferable to a four-year college or university for continued education in the same discipline or another. Three, it offers re-training for both the employed and unemployed to work or update themselves for the emerging or in-demand new industries.
Students range from high schools to working adults taking night classes to complete a degree or gain additional skills in their fields to students with graduate degrees who enrol for more employable skills or to pursue practical lifelong interests.
The ethos of the community college concept steers clear of years of sedentary dormitory lecture-type courses typical of a good many traditional universities. The focus is on hands-on courses that teach readily for the culture of work in two years, and taught by instructors many of whom are themselves practitioners of the skills they teach.
In what has been called “reverse transfers”, students - or graduates - are known to transfer from some regular universities to particular community colleges where they could be better situated to learn hands-on skills. That is said to constitute a fast growing aspect and attraction to the community colleges.
The community colleges are the states’ largest career training providers and they play vital roles in each state’s economy and growth. The idea is to prepare everybody with hands-on skills regardless of their present condition. In some cases, the colleges even accept dropouts in a policy of “open admissions” where assessment tests are done not for punitive purposes - not to drive people away - but as diagnoses for placing candidates in the right places according to their needs,.
If states or governments themselves refuse to educate and update the productive skills of their labour force, who will save the youth from the devil’s shackles? It makes sense to use money to educate people than to waste it on prisons.