Almost everyday I open my email and see one report or another which reports that employers are complaining that in certain fields they are having problems sourcing, locating and hiring the right talent. Then I turn around and see articles about where, like in Florida at the present time, they are talking about cutting funding for the colleges and universities. Their first reaction is that they are going to have to in turn cut the research dollars.
I totally understand the impact that university based R&D has on society as a whole. However I would contend that these projects do nothing for resolving the talent shortage problems. They are great for the university image but the average student is not helped by them in a real way- finding a job and getting a paycheck.
We need to stop and listen to the voice of the customer--the business world--as to what they need to succeed in today's global workplace. We need to change the university system to be based on not what you can innovate or write but rather we need to move the concentration of the institutions to professors who are there because they want to teach. They are there because they want to be resources for the next generation of workers.
This concept was tried once before and the institution was crucified by the establishment universities and the politically based regional accreditation organizations. We are in a world of change but these organizations are stuck in a back to the future mode which says very little about their meeting the needs of the community. A new method or better way is suggested and like everyone else they hate change or the idea of it.This "new" concept was referred to as the Parsons Plan and it attracted some of the best educators in the country who saw the benefits of teaching not researching or writing.
The Parsons Plan recognized the unique contributions these individuals brought to the table and based their compensation on what they taught and how their students demonstrated the mastery needed to enter the workforce. It did not base the tenure of the professor on how much they wrote or how much time they spent in the lab.
I am all for standards of quality to ensure that we are turning out new talent who will become tomorrows leaders.Just make the standards stand for something that benefits all rather then a select few.