The Skills Gap will not close, it is the Cognition Gap we must tackle, The Palgrave Macmilan, 15 August 2018

The Palgrave Macmillan website published an article by Director of the Centre for Teaching & Learning and Senior Lecturer of Political Science Nancy Gleason. The article noted that Dr Gleason is the editor of Higher Education in the Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which introduces the concept of the cognition gap as a challenge for industry, government, and higher education to address together. In the article, Dr Gleason argues that significant talent gaps in the global work force is not a result of a skills gap, but of a cognition gap. She believes that since skills will always be shifting, it would be impossible to “close” this gap with mass vocational training. She argues that a better alternative would be to instead inculcate agile cognition, flexibility, willingness to try new things, and a willingness to fail in both youth and adult learners. She stresses the importance of closing the cognition gap whereby people shift their mindset to constant learning, and adaptability to new environments. Dr Gleason discusses possible solutions to the cognition gap, but notes that they are not obvious. One solution is liberal arts education, which has always claimed to deliver graduates with agile cognitive ability and interdisciplinary understanding of how the world works. However, the focus on small-classroom settings, project-based learning, experiential opportunities, and close interaction with researching faculty is not financially-scalable, and that the cost-per-pupil means liberal arts education will likely not be the sole solution for the cognitive competencies gaps. She concludes by calling for higher education to work with industry and governments to fund education that develops people’s strategic knowledge about what they themselves can deconstruct, reflect upon, and create in order to comfortably jump from career to career.

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