The E-School Method
The new Digital Economy demands new sets of competences and abilities, enterprise being the most critical. While one may think of Enterprise as critical for those who set up and run businesses, enterprise with the small ‘e’ is the everyday ability to find problems, optimise resources and think creatively, opening up possibilities of doing better even within the most process-orientated of the jobs.
Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne of Oxford University estimate that more than half of the current occupational categories face significant risk of being automated within foreseeable future, and for many professions, this is real and the job roles are already changing. Even as we get used to the term ‘Knowledge Economy’, the process-orientated, middle skill jobs that were the mainstay of the Middle Class economy, are fast disappearing, taking the ‘Knowledge Worker’ with them. What is coming in its place are jobs that demand innovation, creativity and person-to-person contact, jobs that one would not prefer machines doing - jobs of ‘Relationship Workers’ , as Geoff Colvin will call them. And, in this new world of work, that old bedrock of ‘Process’ which made Industrial Economy possible is being replaced by the agile abilities of ‘Enterprise’, a constant search of possibilities that unlock a new era of competitiveness in people and in companies.
This change, very real in the workplaces, has overtaken our systems of education and how it is designed to interface with the world of work. The usual systems of education, built around the mastery of processes and pre-defined systems, has fallen short of preparing the candidates for a world of shifting paradigms, agile processes and emergent, rather than defined, possibilities. The focus on ‘Skills Education’ has done little to solve this problem, as its emphasis on process mastery and craftsmanship have not adequately addressed thedemands of thinking, innovating and ideating that the modern workplaces demand.
In the recent past, this disconnect has become clear. Despite clever technology, productivity growth, the source of prosperity in the United States and elsewhere, has stalled. The workforce has lagged in the learning curve of many of today’s most promising technologies, creating the two massive problems of underemployment of skilled people and talent shortages in the key technology sectors.
The ‘Enterprise School’ method is designed to create an alternative to both Higher Education and Skills Training, providing a platform where the learners can build their ‘working identities’ through application of knowledge and reflective analysis, working with peers and experienced mentors to solve real life problems. Built around close engagement with employers, which help define the key skills and technologies needed to solve their talent gap, the ‘Enterprise School’ method makes the learners find and solve problems, through a progression from generic to specific problems, from those with defined outcomes to those with emergent possibilities. It combines the technical competencies, as demanded and defined by employer partners, along with the relational and reflective abilities, and makes discovery of relevant knowledge, rather than mastery of predefined content, and its application in context, the goal of all learning.
‘Enterprise School’ is designed to be a platform that connects the rapidly evolving world of work and emerging professional identity of a young person, who can fully explore her true talents by seeking out real life roles within the safe environment of learning - and progressively becoming the Professional. For the employers, it is an easy framework to plug their key talent requirements, allowing their recruitment processes to change from a specific event on a given day (or days) to a continuous assessment over a longer period of time, dealing with extensive data and valuable insight into the true talents of the candidates concerned, that leads to a much better role-fit than would be otherwise possible.
In summary, then, the ‘Enterprise School’ method allows experimentation and early development of working identities of the candidates and fuller exploration of their true talents. It also transforms the recruitment processes from a time-specific comparison between different candidates on a set of criteria, usually based on historic performance indicators, to a whole-person engagement, opening up possibilities of discovery of abilities and competencies fit for the future. This makes for not just better role-fits and greater competitiveness, but shorter learning curve, happier workplaces, greater job and life stabilities and all-round prosperity and happiness.