Let’s Make Sure America Succeeds in the Age of Agility

Like many newcomers to the Mile High City, Tim Taylor came for the quality of life. He launched a youth-serving nonprofit and quickly met business leaders interested in better education statewide and, a dozen years ago, Colorado Succeeds was born.

After six years and some local successes, Taylor launched a national organization, America Succeeds (@AmericaSucceeds). Both are based on the core principles of business that apply to education: transparency, return on investment, accountability, competition and customers first. With support from the Albertson Foundation, Idaho was the second state to join (and they started one of our favorite fall conference, the EdVenture Summit in Boise).

In fall 2017, America Succeeds released The Age of Agility: Education Pathways for the Future of Work to call attention to the misalignment between what is being taught in schools—both K-12 and higher education—and the knowledge, skills, and behaviors required by the modern workplace. It’s one of the best summaries of the #FutureofWork and whats happening in the world.

The spirit of the report is captured in a quote from Google’s education evangelist Jaime Casap, “We’re preparing kids for jobs that don’t exist, with technology not invented, for problems we haven’t recognized.”

Automation powered by artificial intelligence and enabling technologies (like fast broadband, cloud storage, robots and sensors) is transforming the economy. “An enormous swath of jobs will be impacted,” explained Taylor. He points to autonomous trucks and automated shipping ports. Even highly skills jobs like Radiologists are rapidly being augmented by smart technology.

Age of Agility was a conscious effort to inject the future of work into the 36 gubernatorial races in 2018. It was also an effort to ensure that educators are valued and equipped with the agility to succeed in a rapidly changing workforce and to maximize their contributions regardless of the length of their career in education.

“Three R’s are table stakes now,” said Taylor. “The 4 C’s are the currency of future.” (He’s referring to critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.)

In the year since launch, the America Succeeds team has been on an Agility Tour which included community conversations in nine states. The conversations uncovered three big ideas:

1. Lifelong Learners demonstrate agility and value the accumulation of the knowledge, skills, and abilities to succeed in a rapidly changing world.

2. Education systems reflect a shift toward competency; they are agile and responsive to both learner and employer needs.

3. Educators are valued and equipped with the agility to succeed in a rapidly changing workforce and to maximize their contributions regardless of the length of their career in education.

Taylor thinks every state should be attempting to create an agile policy environment because it is difficult to predict what will happen when and where.

America Succeeds is a business-backed advocacy group. They believe local businesses can help build a bridge across political turmoil and change in public education creating more continuity of effort for educators.

Taylor also sees work-based learning partnerships as a key role for businesses.

The first Agility Tour wraps up this month with a celebration of partnerships and reports on progress and promising practices. Then, it’s time for a new round of conversations about creating agile communities that support equitable opportunities for all young people.

Key Takeaways from the Podcast:

[2:03] Tim talks about his early education.
[4:00] Tim speaks about his path to advocacy.
[6:55] Is there something about Denver that attracts a lot of advocates?
[8:08] What led Tom to become an education advocate.
[9:08] From Colorado Succeeds to America Succeeds; Tim’s journey launching America Succeeds.
[12:00] Tim describes the mission of America Succeeds.
[13:12] The changes in the economy Tim began to see that have some important implications for education.
[15:54] Why Tim describes the period that we’re in as “The Age of Agility.”
[18:35] Tim highlights some of the key drivers of change.
[23:14] Why entrepreneurship is more important than ever for young learners.
[25:11] Tim speaks about the Agility Tour and its implications
[27:19] Does Tim predict a standard response emerging in terms of agility or will every community be specially crafted?
[29:50] Does Tim see States standardizing a standard approach or each crafting a unique approach based on need and opportunity?
[31:14] The importance of business partnerships.
[32:58] How schools can adapt to these changes around the world.
[34:55] How can businesses that want to get involved help?
[36:14] On the Agility Tour, is the importance of work-based learning and partnering with schools to help them become more agile talked about?
[36:46] Tim shares a policy example that they’re super excited about right now at America Succeeds.
[40:45] Tim gives a quick look forward at 2019 — what’s in store for America Succeeds, going forward.
[42:30] Where to find Tim and his work online.

Mentioned in This Episode:

America Succeeds
Colorado Succeeds
Albertson Foundation
EDVenture Summit (in Boise)
“The Age of Agility: Education Pathways for the Future of Work”
Colorado Children’s Campaign
Jamie Casap (Chief Education Evangelist for Google)
Agility Tour

For more, see:

This post is a part of the Getting Smart Future of Work Campaign. The future of work will bring new challenges and cause us to shift how we think about jobs and employability — so what does this mean for teaching and learning? In our exploration of the #FutureOfWork, sponsored by eduInnovation and powered by Getting Smart, we dive into what’s happening, what’s coming and how schools might prepare. For more, follow #futureofwork and visit our Future of Work page.

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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