Preparing California

what's ahead for California's FUTURE workforce? The state of California relies heavily on the CSU to prepare a qualified workforce. What are we doing, and what should we do, to ensure our graduates are ready for the changes to come?

Dr. Brooks: Building the capacity to be more playful, adaptable and envision the future is really important. One of the things I do in the classroom is ask students to create a story about their professional lives in 2040. They have to envision that something happens—they get promoted, they get fired. How do they resolve that? Empathy is part of that, too, and that's what I want to bequeath to students. Ultimately, that's how the planet will survive for our species, to be more collectively empathic.

Dr. Greiner: The CSU has been resource-starved for so long; I have one-third of the number of faculty I need to be able to teach what I teach. So how do we do what we have been charged to do? How do we, as educators, help create the jobs and train the workforce, given the limits on our resources?

We have a very diverse [nursing student] population which, to me, bodes well for the future of healthcare in California. Because there are people who come from our local communities and come back to our local communities to provide care. We need to help them to recognize their role in being that transformative care provider. We have to be able to show them what healthcare can be, not what it currently is.

Dr. Norman: I came to academia from industry, where we asked, 'How are we doing?' We need to invest in people with the right analytical skills to say how much learning is occurring and is it the right learning. How are our students performing in their professional roles and shouldn't they come back [to the CSU]? There's an enormous market in training and development; companies spend $200 billion on enterprise learning. That can come back to us as universities. There's a huge amount of potential for the CSU to make sure we're continuing to reimagine what we're doing, whether it's through extended education or additional master's programs. 

The thing that makes me think that the CSU will be the system to do this is when you look at the latest Money magazine ranking for schools based on cost, and compare that to what students make when they graduate, the CSU had 14 of our campuses in the top 100, right? So I think we're doing well.

Dr. Thomas: I'm learning about the “60-year curriculum," something I first heard about from Harvard. With increasing lifespans and people working past retirement age, this framework focuses on developing new educational models that enable each person to reskill as their occupational and personal context shifts… An institution can really create that lifelong learning capacity and also provide short-term preparation along the way. That's going to be extremely valuable as people are doing 12 different jobs in a lifetime. As the CSU, we'll need to be more flexible in our delivery [of courses] and affordability. Our Professional and Continuing Education students come to us for career advancement and they have a lot of options, so we need to stay relevant and engaged with employers so we can prepare both our traditional students and a​dult learners with the skills and knowledge that are needed now and in the future.