June 8, 2011
Utah’s Future Workforce: In Hopeful Hands of Higher Education
(Candace Little, Utah Business Magazine) — Education leaders from across the state, including representatives from most major institutions of higher education met for Utah Business magazine’s Education Roundtable on Tuesday, June 7 where they discussed the challenges and opportunities facing higher education in Utah. One major opportunity identified by the group was the state’s need to capitalize on its huge rising generation, and create pathways of success for the changing population.
Moderator for the roundtable, Vicki Varela, Vicki Varela Strategic Communications started the discussion by quoting some words of Tom Friedman, op-ed columnist for The New York Times about America’s need for innovation. He wrote, “You want more good jobs, spawn more Steve Jobs.”
Utah has an advantage in meeting such a challenge, simply because of its large and growing young population. But some at the roundtable say that if we continue in our current direction and system of education, many of the rising generation could be lost—and along with it, a huge opportunity for Utah’s people and businesses.
Attracting people of all demographics to higher education is a concern to Stephen Nadauld, president of Dixie State College, although he says it’s a concern shared by many states. “It’s possible if we’re not careful enough, we will develop a ‘have’ and ‘have-not’ society in our state because we aren’t effective enough at reaching out to the under motivated and minority students,” Nadauld said.
State budget cuts to education, as well as private donor decreases are not helping places of higher education enable the less advantaged students. Some at the discussion said their institutions are doing a pretty good job at doing “more with less,” but that at some point, the state will need to see public education as an investment, not a cost.
Ann Millner, president, Weber State University, said that Utah used to be a low tuition state with low financial aid, but now it is a high tuition state with low financial aid. While 50 percent of her students already work full time, she doesn’t think any more cost should be put on their shoulders. “We have to see higher education as a public good,” Millner said.
To read the rest of this article online from Utah Business Magazine, click here.Posted by: psilberman