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 Response Page - Rothchild / Dickinson  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Mary Rothchild / Brenda Dickinson Interview of


Mary Rothchild, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU), and Brenda Dickinson, Dean of Continuing Education and Customized Training, Normandale Community College say that post-secondary institutions must relate their course offerings strategically to supply and demand for jobs.  

They call for more ongoing information for students of all ages about changes in the work force and the training that will be required to accommodate those changes. Some post-secondary education will be necessary for the vast majority of job seekers. Two-year degrees might be more appropriate for some than four-year degrees. Regardless of technical skills, every worker will need "soft" skills, such as customer relations, cooperation, flexibility and innovation.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Rothchild and Dickinson. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Relate courses to jobs. (7.2 average response) Post-secondary institutions must increasingly offer courses that are designed to meet supply and demand for jobs, with less emphasis on traditional offerings.

2. Educate about job market. (8.4 average response) Educational providers at all levels need to provide students with ongoing information about the wide variety of emerging job opportunities and new skills necessary to be qualified for those jobs.

3. More 2-year degrees needed. (6.8 average response) While the vast majority of jobs in the future will require some form of post-secondary education, more two-year degrees will needed than four-year degrees.

4. Soft skills equally important. (7.9 average response) Workers need training in soft skills--such as customer relations, cooperation, flexibility, and innovation--as well as technical skills required for each job.

5. Keep tuition proportional to expense. (6.8 average response) Student tuition in future years ought not bear more of the expense of post-secondary training than is its share today.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. (6.9 average response) There's too much emphasis on increasing the role of post-secondary education in preparing people for jobs. Post-secondary education prepares people for their entire lives, not just for jobs.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Relate courses to jobs.







2. Educate about job market.







3. More 2-year degrees needed.







4. Soft skills equally important.







5. Keep tuition proportional to expense.







6. Educate for life, not jobs.







Individual Responses:

R.C. Angevine (2.5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5)

1. Relate courses to jobs. If this means that the future is to only offer specific "technical" job skill training then I would disagree. While the need to prepare students with the necessary technical skills is certainly a key part of education there is also a need to provide training in other more general job/life skills such as communications, discipline, etc.

2. Educate about job market. I believe this is also the responsibility of businesses and other future employers.

4. Soft skills equally important. In many cases I believe this to be an even higher need than technical training. I believe that it is much easier to teach students the technical skills if they have the appropriate "soft" or life skills.

5. Keep tuition proportional to expense. I believe that the state needs to reverse its current process of cutting aid to education at all levels if it really wants to see a long lasting improvement in Minnesota's economy.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. See comments above.

Chris Brazelton (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5)

6. Educate for life, not jobs. In addition to workers, we need great thinkers, problem solvers, policy makers. We need solid citizens, volunteers, parents in addition to providers.

Michael Martens (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (5) (5)

2. Educate about job market. I believe the weakest link in job information is at the high school level especially high school guidance counselors. I believe that many high school guidance counselors do not know the benefits of training other than a BA degree. There are many jobs that pay over $50,000 that require a 2 year technical/skill based training but a liberal arts BA is not qualified for. High school counselors need to know that all or almost of the entry-level management training programs and positions for college graduates have been eliminated. Employers want skilled-based new and/or entry-level employees, not someone with a liberal arts degree

3. More 2-year degrees needed. Employers want skilled based new and/or entry level employees not someone with a liberal arts degree

6. Educate for life, not jobs. In a recession there is always more emphasis on jobs skills than life skills. Far too many college professors are totally uninterested in and uncaring about whether their students can get a job after the student graduates. Because of globalization US businesses can no longer afford the management training programs and general on-the-job training programs they had in the past, so they are only looking for workers that are already trained. This is a major paradigm change/shift that 4 year liberal arts colleges and universities have not responded to.

Bert LeMunyon (7.5) (10) (5) (7.5) (7.5) (5)

2. Educate about job market. High school counselors need to be more active in this area so that along with students’ and parents’ input the students can be guided to appropriate educational opportunities that will equip the students for emerging job opportunities, whether that be through trade schools, community colleges or four-year institutions.

3. More 2-year degrees needed. If we can educate ourselves to believe that four years of college isn't necessary for everyone, and it turns out that it then requires more two-year institutions, then, yes, we may need more two-year schools.

5. Keep tuition proportional to expense. Colleges and universities need to do more to contain the cost of an education through becoming more efficient and effective. There is no reason that tuition should increase faster that the cost of living.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. I believe the emphasis is needed in both areas. Too many colleges offer courses that prepare students neither for jobs or life. We need to encourage more students to enter the fields of science, math and engineering instead of taking courses because they are easy. We also need a better balance of faculty that is conservative and/or liberal in their political views instead of the present mostly left-leaning faculty at most of our schools.

Bruce A. Lundeen (5) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (7.5) (10)

1. Relate courses to jobs. Looking at it from my perspective I think post-secondary institutions do offer courses that meet supply and demand for jobs. The problem obtaining employment is the perception of the ideal employee held by the employers.

2. Educate about job market. Educational providers are probably as confused about the wants of employers as I am.

3. More 2-year degrees needed. A two-year degree is an excellent platform upon which to determine whether to enter a career or pursue additional education.

4. Soft skills equally important. The soft skills - to include social skills - are more important for the majority of employees than technical training. As a general rule a technical background is not necessary to learn the particular role an employee has in the employer’s domain.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. I would wish for young people not to expand their expectations with the accumulation of knowledge gained in post-secondary education. As it is, my perception seems to be that a college education directs the student toward government employment, not the private sector where hard work and innovation is needed. As an old machinist said, "Someone still has to make the shoes!"

Malcolm McDonald (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (10)

1. Relate courses to jobs. We need to think fifty years out, not thirty years ago. Those in training to teach will teach over the next fifty years not thirty or forty. They need to develop creativity and discipline, an art not taught to any great extent today. Consequently we need to think of students as older, more mature and wanting to learn what fits into the life each wants to have, not what was required ten or twenty years ago. We are nowhere near functioning as I have just described.

2. Educate about job market. We need adjuncts of all types and to set aside the grind for PhD's in narrow subjects taught by ghosts of the past.

3. More 2-year degrees needed. We also need to resurrect the idea of Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master in the field, all based on practical experience. This means hours spent in the field working on projects current at the time and on new ideas highly likely to be very creative. Future (is) not the past. (What is needed is d)iscipline to focus in and stay on target learning from mistakes in an effort to discover. Discovery must come alongside memory. Creative thinking must come along-side academic discussion.

4. Soft skills equally important. In conjunction with and alongside, not separate and never instead of technical skills. H(uman) R(esources) no longer dominates, but teams and projects of a creative nature comprised of people who fit well with each other and command mutual respect are the new order of the day - replaces individual success and winning at the expense of team building and project success.

5. Keep tuition proportional to expense. Seven to ten percent per annum cost increases must give way to an examination of how best time purchased and volunteered is put to use. The real budget is use of time in the most effective way possible and the elimination of the not-truly-needed, including changes in laws, regulations, rules, requirements and reports that serve little purpose but dominate today's scene and are a prelude to greater growth in the future. Individual responsibility and group responsibility must come into play to balance out and overcome the law of punishment, Old Testament liberalism "thou shalt not " that dominates today's scene and escalates cost.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. Concept - yes! Exact wording above – No. Too much the traditional at the expense of people thinking soft skills or technical. Entire life preparation begins in the womb, escalates dramatically through age five and receives too little attention today, necessitating too much delay in having the skills "to have a life". We need to understand that the preparation is from womb on and continues alongside but not in competition with developing the skills for satisfying curiosity and wanting to discover.

Peter Hennessey (2.5) (2.5) (5) (7.5) (2.5) (7.5)

1. Relate courses to jobs. All of the problems with the education system and the mismatch between education and real world jobs started when the education industry shifted away from the traditional basics. There is no way educators and employers can possibly know what skills will be needed 4+ years from now. History has proven only one thing: you need a solid foundation in the basics, so you will be able to face up to all specific and ever-shifting challenges. While it may seem intuitively obvious that schools should prepare students for real-life jobs, the fact is that schools had lost their effectiveness and most of their relevance to the real world precisely when they started to shift their focus away from the traditional basics.

2. Educate about job market. You can try but you will fail. I don't know anyone who has ever gotten useful career advice or a referral to a real job from the campus career center, or its equivalent in the state unemployment office. I have never met an instructor, professor or administrator who had any idea what jobs will be there by the time their students graduate and what job skills they will need. The one fact that has always been true is that the top 1-5 percent can practically write their own tickets and the rest have to fend for themselves catch-as-catch-can -- in any field, with any degree, in any economic climate. While it may seem intuitively obvious that schools should keep track of job trends and anticipate the needs of employers, the fact is that this is nothing but a feeble attempt at central planning of the economy. Soviet Russia tried that, remember?

3. More 2-year degrees needed. Under normal conditions, such as existed before the 1960's when the mantra began, everybody must go to college, only about 10% of high school students were college-track. High schools offered courses in home economics, preparation for commercial and business office jobs, auto / metal / wood / welding shop, etc. The typical 18 year old was well prepared either for success in college or a reasonably well paying job working with his and her hands in the real world. By the 1970's the high schools had shifted all this to the junior colleges, so now we make the proud announcement that 90%+ of our students are going to college. What a crock.

4. Soft skills equally important. You need a solid foundation in English math, science, civics and humanities, as well as all the soft skills listed above. Interviewing is a skill, keeping a job is a skill, serving customers is a skill, getting along with coworkers and your superiors and your inferiors is a skill; being a self-starter who does not need micromanaging supervision all day long is a skill; thinking and being flexible, adaptable and innovative in your job and in related jobs is a skill. Most of this cannot be taught in the classroom, all of it requires on-the-job experience and practice. This is why high school must be a time of the widest possible experience, so you can identify your strengths and weaknesses and discover your natural talents, in school and in a part-time job. This is why one reason the minimum wage laws must be eliminated, so employers can afford to take in young people and put them through their paces.

5. Keep tuition proportional to expense. Education is of direct benefit to the individual student. Some can appreciate the financial sacrifice made by their parents and reward them and themselves with good grades. For others it's party time on daddy's dime. Most people value everything more if they have to pay for it themselves. Tuition subsidies are not an "investment" by the state; the most stupid argument is that higher paid workers will pay higher taxes and thereby provide the state with the return on their investment. On that basis, why not have the state pay for everything -- food, shelter, clothing, as well as all your entertainment, social, sexual and medical needs -- because all that would make for happier more productive workers and they'll glad be glad to turn over all their income to the state. Soviet Russia tried that, remember?

6. Educate for life, not jobs. There was a time when it was secondary education that prepared people for the rest of their lives, and college education prepared you for a professional career and scholarship. But since the 1960s and 70's we have elevated EVERYTHING to the level of a professional career -- just look at all the stupid departments, majors and degrees that fill the pages of a typical college catalogue.

Don Anderson (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10)

2. Educate about job market. The days of just getting a college degree are over. Unless we are training people for a proper job opportunity, it is a waste of time.

3. More 2-year degrees needed. More jobs will need more skill and training than in the past.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. Just doing everyday chores, such as using electronic gadgets requires skills not needed in the past.

Polly Bergerson (10) (10) (10) (10) (7.5) (5)

1. Relate courses to jobs. The community college system also needs to work more closely with the high school systems to identify these individuals and support and prepare them for a post high school education that will benefit them and society as a whole.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. Life skills should be an on-going education that begins at lower levels of education and continues for their lifetime.

W. D. (Bill) Hamm (2.5) (2.5) (2.5) (5) (2.5) (5)

1. Relate courses to jobs. The education system must exist for the best interest of the student not the corporate employers. It must educate the student with the knowledge and skills they need for the workforce without being subjugated by said corporations. The more we go into skills training the less we need standard teachers, and the more we need skilled professional trainers.

2. Educate about job market. While I agree for the need for students to be aware of future job necessities, I sincerely doubt the socialist education leadership’s ability to assess societal needs in any meaningful way.

3. More 2-year degrees needed. Many of the mechanical and maintenance skills can still be taught better in on-the-job apprenticeship programs paid for by the employer. This whole concept of educating the workforce at public expense needs to be examined a little closer. We need to get back to educating the student for the student’s best interest, and push the costs for anything that does business’s bidding back out to business. Our public education system exists to serve the public and students first and business as a direct result of that. If you want to design a system that serves the masters of corporate America, then let them pay for it and don't call it public education.

4. Soft skills equally important. These soft skills, as you like to call them, should already be being taught in high school. Our shop classes of days gone by used to begin the technical skills training in our high schools as well.

5. Keep tuition proportional to expense. It needs to be less than it is now, more attuned to what it was 30 years ago. If you are going to insist upon making our education system subservient to the corporate community, than you need to start collecting a lot more money from them for the services you’re providing.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. We are developing more and more excuses for doing less and less at the K-12 level. Take sports off our K-12 budget and give us back basic vocational training (shop classes), at our middle and high schools again.

Frank Schweigert (0) (10) (5) (0) (10) (10)

1. Relate courses to jobs. Some courses in higher education can follow the job market, but for the most part it is neither feasible nor prudent to have higher education chase the shifting trends in the marketplace. Rather, institutions of higher education must teach students how to learn, how to think, how to solve problems, how to research and measure and calculate. These broader skills position students for adaptation to job and career market demands over a lifetime, and that is what we want from higher education.

2. Educate about job market. Absolutely true that higher education institutions should keep students informed.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. I agree, but this question is very poorly worded and will garner misleading data. I would argue that the aim should be to prepare students for a lifetime of working--not merely for the jobs currently most available. It is highly misleading and wrong-minded to frame one of the options for education as preparing people for their entire lives, implying that we are preparing them for spirituality, recreation, meaning, family and everything else that might be construed as "entire life." The real question facing higher education is: should we be preparing students for currently popular jobs, or preparing them for a lifetime of employment and enterprise?

Ralph Brauer (0) (2.5) (0) (5) (0) (10)

1. Relate courses to jobs. This (is) what happens when you have an ex-banker involved in post-secondary education. A recent survey said a large majority of "real" jobs (we'll eliminate service jobs) did not exist a decade ago. So a student who went to college to get a job a decade ago and only trained for that job now needs to be retrained or get another degree. Training students for future jobs requires a crystal ball none of us possesses.

2. Educate about job market. I recommend the legislature agree to donate a crystal ball to each institution where it be kept in a prominent place under glass with a hammer and a sign that says, "Break glass when necessary."

3. More 2-year degrees needed. I don't know what trend studies these folks have been reading, but in fact they show quite the opposite. Have been working on an education project with Boeing and they can't hire enough American-trained engineers. The Kohler company in Wisconsin had to create their own training program because they could not find enough students in the entire state of Wisconsin to fill engineering positions. Was in a meeting with the head of AAAS and the shortage of STEM graduates is troubling. The shortage of bachelor's degree-trained nurses is at crisis proportions. Two-year degrees do none of this. Saw in a different survey that one of the jobs with good wages and a huge shortage is plumbers. Community colleges do not train plumbers.

4. Soft skills equally important. My only disagreement is the wording of this. The skills listed are not "soft"; they are necessary. Are community colleges really graduating people who do not know how to cooperate or innovate? What is missing from this is any awareness that what is really needed are people who know basic math, science and communications.

5. Keep tuition proportional to expense. Big wording problem. What the heck is "post secondary training?" Have we really reached the point where educators of this rank are actually using such lingo to describe post-secondary education? Education is not training. Training should be paid for by business. The state Constitution says nothing about "training"; it uses the word "education." Students already shoulder too much of the cost of education. This kind of vision--that education is training--is exactly what is wrong with higher education in Minnesota.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. ALL education should prepare people to be life-long learners. Today's test-centered education does not teach people how to learn but how to fill in boxes. We are back to the famous situation noted in A Nation At Risk-- we are graduating people who can take tests but not make change. Minnesota's drop in educational rankings especially for students of color and the discrepancy in performance between rich and poor districts is a scandal. It is time to quit playing politics with our children's lives.

Dick McGuire (7) (10) (5) (7) (10) (10)

Robert J. Brown (10) (10) (8) (10) (5) (3)

1. Relate courses to jobs. Over 50 years ago a book, "The Saber Toothed Curriculum", pointed out very well that once something gets into the curriculum it stays there because of inertia and the concern of faculty to preserve their jobs without changing what they do.

2. Educate about job market. Minnesota has one of the worst counselor-to-student ratios in the country for K-12 school systems. Who is there to give the kids information?

3. More 2-year degrees needed. This has been true for a long time.

6. Educate for life, not jobs. It would make sense to spend more time in pre-employment years to prepare people for jobs and then use ongoing education for more of the liberal arts education for lifelong learning as people grow and appreciate that type of education.

William Kuisle (10) (10) (7) (7) (3) (6)

Andrea Ferstan (10) (10) (10) (9) (10) (3)

There needs to be a focus on helping students build stackable credentials that tie out to credits.

Paul and Ruth Hauge (8) (9) (7) (9) (8) (3)

It's the funding that will make or break the future of government-supported education in

Minnesota, and the future looks bleak with the party in power pulling back on the funding for education.

Chuck Lutz (9) (9) (3) (9) (9) (10)

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (8) (10) (10) (8)

Arvonne Fraser (4) (5) (5) (5) (5) (10)

As I commented on Rosenstone's presentation, today's students will have many different jobs in their lifetime. We also need to decrease tuition by getting more state funding and increase assistance to students. Also, as the NY Times said in its front page story on 3/2/12 community college students, especially, can't finish in two years because required classes fill up and there are waiting lists to get into technical courses. This is a double whammy for students, their parents and even grandparents who help finance education. Not only is tuition going up because of disinvestment in education, but also this disinvestment means not enough faculty to teach the courses, so education is costing individuals and their families more. Let's pay attention to that.

Tom Spitznagle (10) (10) (5) (7) (5) (1)

Alan Miller (9) (9) (10) (9) (10) (10)

But none of this can be achieved until the Legislature is led by dedicated officials who recognize the need for education as a priority if we are to be restored to the prominence we once held, but which is slipping away because of legislative ignorance, bigotry, and skewed priorities. We need not arm every citizen with anything more than the opportunity to succeed in this competitive society.

Tom Swain (9) (9) (8) (10) (5) (3


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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