Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Class of 2011 Chasing China in 2030?

The economic news of the week has been weighing heavy on my mind. Unless you live in a cave, you have heard the news that China has displaced Japan as the world's second most productive economy. That news doesn't concern me necessarily. China now trails only the United States in that category. With double-digit growth the past few years, China shows no signs of slowing any time soon. Furthermore, according to the experts, China will surpass the United States in the year 2030. That news concerns me.

In the year 2030, this year's graduating classes will be 37 or 38 years old. Those at the head of the class will be just about at the point in their careers where they are poised to make whatever impact on the world and in their fields they are going to make. They will be moving from lower management to mid-management or from mid-management to upper management. They will be reaching the point of having ten to fifteen years' experience behind them. They will be not only contributors to our economy but perhaps even pacesetters. They should be our movers and shakers twenty years from now.

In the year 2030, this year's first graders will be 26 years old. Some will be settling into the workforce while others will be finishing up medical degrees, law degrees, MBAs and the like. They will be following in the footsteps of this year's graduating class and also will be contributors to our economy.

Unless things in the change in American schools, every student currently in school will be chasing China twenty years from now if not sooner. Unless we break out of the rut of an educational system designed for industrial automatons, we may be chasing more nations than only China. The year 2030 will be here before we know it. We can't possibly know what the world or the workforce will look like in twenty years but we know it will be far different than today. I don't know about you but I feel a sense of urgency like never before to prepare our students for a collaborative, shrinking world in which they soon will be competing not only with other American graduates for top career positions but also with workers around the world for those positions.

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