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CEOs: Local schools equip some students with skills they’ll need for workforce

CEOs were asked: Are you confident that local schools are equipping students with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need for the workplaces of the future? And what exactly are those in 2019/2020?
CEOs were asked: Are you confident that local schools are equipping students with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need for the workplaces of the future? And what exactly are those in 2019/2020? Getty Images/iStockphoto

CEOs were asked: Are you confident that local schools are equipping students with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need for the workplaces of the future? And what exactly are those in 2019/2020?

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The workforce is changing so quickly I cannot believe it is possible for the schools to keep up or change gears that fast. School is for learning the basics — reading, writing, math and independence, responsibility, problem-solving. It shows a potential employer that you are trainable and have the personality and ability to work through and learn new skills. We are putting way too much weight on the schools to adjust to all the workforce changes. Unless you are in a specific specialty — lawyer, doctor, engineer, a good general education from any school (public, Ivy League, etc.) should give a person the solid base to begin any career.

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab

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    My perspective is from an elementary-school parent. I think schools are trying to build more soft skills, like public speaking, and there is an increasing focus on STEM, which is imperative for the future. Schools are also becoming more sensitive to the needs of the planet and it shows in the students’ attitudes toward the environment. My daughter actively looks for ways to be eco-friendlier and avoids creating waste, and she’s only 7 years old!

    Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec

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    No, I am not, but I do not blame the school system as it is a much broader problem in our society. At a core level, we need to teach children from an early age how today’s decisions affect tomorrow’s reality. In the developing world, the clear connection between hard work and success is implicitly understood from an early age, as it was in the U.S. until fairly recently.

    José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw

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    I think schools should teach credit, how to manage a household, personal budget, and finance. Many students graduate without the basic understanding of the importance of good credit and money management. Also, with personal devices and social media, there is a lack of socialization skills. Students need to learn how to interact with people, to value differences and problem-solving skills.

    Beatrice Louissaint, president, CEO, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council

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    I can only speak to the school my children attend because I am familiar with their programs. I feel very confident that they are teaching my children and preparing them for the future. They offer classes such as innovation lab, robotics, design strategy — to name a few. A sense of entrepreneurship also permeates throughout their programming from a very young age. It is extremely important for all schools to realize that the future of the workplace, as well as the future of learning is changing rapidly, which means that the curriculum also has to evolve.

    Melissa Medina, president, eMerge

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    International comparative studies indicate that American high school students under-perform compared to many OECD countries, especially in science and math. Technology is driving our future, and the pace of change is quickening. An increasing percentage of higher paying jobs require technological expertise. At Miami Business School, we increased the number of STEM-designated master’s degree programs from one to four, and our enrollments are up as a result. We have 24-year-old students graduating with our MS in business analytics commanding starting salaries at more than $90,000. We are also exploring whether and how to make a coding course in Python required across most of our degree programs.

    John Quelch, vice provost, University of Miami Dean, Miami Business School and Leonard M. Miller University Professor

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    Generally speaking, I’m not confident. With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence, we have to do a lot more in delivering effective education around three pillars: problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and technology skills.

    Ariel Quiñones, co-founder, Ironhack

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    I’ve always thought that the STEM strategy was on target, steering our students (the next generations of workers) toward careers in the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. As an information society, we need those skills in our workforce. The superintendent of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Alberto Carvalho, is focused on the overall success of the student and appears to be addressing both higher education aspirations and vocational training by rewarding students who choose either career path. We need to encourage both, and we can't let vocational training disappear because we need the trades as well as the information workforce.

    Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge

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    I am confident that local schools are equipping some students with the skills, knowledge, and resources they need for the future workplaces. That obligation, however, falls not only on the schools, but also parents and students. Basic skills should include (in no particular order): bilingualism, computer proficiency, touch typing, and personal finance. Whether one seeks a vocation, profession, or something in between, a broad foundation in language arts, math, social studies and science, provides the diverse knowledge and perspectives necessary to make intelligent life decisions.

    Chana Sheldon, executive director, MOCA

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    THE MIAMI HERALD CEO ROUNDTABLE IS A WEEKLY FEATURE THAT APPEARS IN BUSINESS MONDAY OF THE MIAMI HERALD. Meet the current members of the roundtable.

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