Online Education in the United States: Improving Workforce Skills
VIII INTERNATIONAL GUIDE CONFERENCE AND V SEMINAR ON EDUCATION AND COMMUNICATION
Science and Technology, Management and Quality: The future of distance education in Brazil and around the world
Aracaju, Brazil November 19-21, 2014
The conference intends to promote critical discussion on the main trends of global e-learning development, with particular attention to technology, management, research and quality.
There is no doubt that we live in interesting times. Globalization and technology are driving considerable change in our lives as individuals, in our workplace environments, and in society generally. A key skill in the 21st century is being able to understand and adapt to the pervasive changes.
In particular, globalization has driven more competition in the environment as firms look to maximize profits and grow their businesses without regard to political boundaries. In today’s environment companies look to take advantage of any opportunity to improve their positioning. Similarly, technology has enabled firms to bridge distances and source resources from anywhere in the world as well as selling products and services globally. Together, these trends of globalization and technology mean that companies must strive to assess their current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats on a regular basis and combine them to develop sustainable and competitive strategies. These strategies often require rapid changes, requiring companies to be flexible and responsive to meet the “new norm” while remaining viable. One key area that demands attention of companies on a regular basis is related to the recruitment, training, and development of their most important asset—their people. In general, the workforce in many developed countries is aging dramatically as baby boomers move towards retirement and birth rates continue to decline. Further, the increasing use of technology together with other workforce skills required by companies presents a problem not only for the number of individuals required in the workforce but also for the education and training of that workforce. Finally, while distance has a much less important impact on business than it did in the past, the economic costs of transportation and personnel movement are increasing while the social and political costs are becoming better known. Employees and firms are more footloose and easily able to move to more attractive economic opportunities and talented personnel that may exist elsewhere.
This paper explores the current situation with respect to workforce skills in the US as an important component of the competitiveness of the American economy at a time of significantly increased global competition and economic insecurity in many markets. Specifically, the paper provides an overview of the perceived skills gap in the US labor force and identifies ways that this gap can be closed notably using technology such as online learning. Generally, online learning has seen remarkable growth both globally and in the US. This paper links the growth in online learning to the specific needs of the workplace in today’s turbulent economy.
Additional content will be provided upon request.