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Here at SCPa Works, we’re always exploring new ways to deliver excellent career services to both job seekers and employers.

Back in April, I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego for the ASU/GSV Education Tech Conference with the goal of finding inspiring and innovative ideas for how we develop the right strategy for incorporating technology into our service delivery. Here’s just a snapshot of some of key themes that emerged over the course of my three days there.

  • Technology is a tool, people are still the platform. My favorite theme from the week. It was truly incredible to see the power of predictive software, artificial intelligence and robotics at the event, but we can never forget that we are all in the business of helping people. When the goal is improving educational and workforce outcomes, it helps frame the question as: “How is this technology going to help improve outcomes for our community?”
  • “Corporate training is increasingly making higher education irrelevant.” Quoting a CEO of a Silicon Valley coding/developer company, this statement stopped me in my tracks. For certain industries (such as search engine optimization and coding), the skills needed may not come from someone with a four-year degree, and many companies believe they can train and develop a workforce using their own internal curricula at a faster, cheaper and more focused way than higher education.
  • With more power comes more responsibility. As new technologies and deepening data streams abound, so too do the calls for improving learning outcomes and completion metrics. This was the mantra throughout the weekend: technology is great, but if we can’t see (or measure) the outcomes, than what was it worth?
  • Content is (still) king. For all the talk of virtual reality and artificial intelligence, the refrain we hear again and again is that the content is still un-engaging and low-quality. Technology is making educational content more equitable and accessible for so many people, but the delivery of the content does not change the quality of the content itself. The most successful educational programs will be the ones with the highest quality that can also best leverage technology to reach their audience.
  • School is no longer just a physical place. More and more, learning that bridges formal and informal learning experiences is connecting through effective use of advanced technology, such as: differentiated instruction; flexible pacing; standards-based skills/knowledge; and learning anywhere, anytime.

At SCPa Works, we have begun to think about how to more effectively use technology applications, relying on human centered design techniques to guide our thinking. In an environment of (relatively) low unemployment and scarce workforce development resources at our PA CareerLink® sites, finding the right ways to utilize technology to serve our job seekers and businesses is not just a luxury, it’s a necessity. We must continue to adapt to the new of employers and job seekers if we are to be successful in delivering the needed training to keep our workforce competitive.