Eduardo J. Padrón on a ‘world of lifelong learning’

Innovators share ideas with WorkingNation Overheard at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021

“Connecting students to the perfect pathway to be able to accomplish their careers is a major obligation of the universities,” says Eduardo J. Padrón, Ph.D., president emeritus of Miami Dade College, the largest degree-granting institution in the country. Under his leadership and continuing legacy, the college’s eight campuses now offer more than 300 career pathways.

WorkingNation sat down with Padrón at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2021 in Beverly Hills as part of our #WorkingNationOverheard interview series. With Charting a New Course as the guiding theme, thought leaders and innovators shared ideas about the changing economy, worker development, education, tech, philanthropy, and more.

Padrón says the mission to guide students to their careers cannot be done alone. “You have to work with employers because, in the end, they are the ones who are going to hire the talent that you produce. You want to make sure that the students have the preparation that is needed to meet the needs of today’s employers, which by the way, is constantly changing. The pace of change in the world today has accelerated to the point where you need to constantly be revising and reviewing the career paths and what goes into a specific course and a program.”

Padrón notes that students and jobseekers are not the only ones who need to keep up with 21st century skills. Everyone is a lifelong learner. “We all have to go back and upskill and reskill. Teachers are not the exception. They have to constantly update their knowledge and skills to be able to keep up with what’s happening in the marketplace and being able to give the students the latest information, the latest technology, and everything else that is needed to be able to graduate students that are really truly prepared to start being effective and productive on Day One when they join any company.”

He adds, “Institutions that do not support their faculty in terms of professional development are institutions that are falling behind in terms of their ability to really train the students well.”

Postsecondary education should be free or very affordable, according to Padrón. “It was about a hundred years ago that there was a big debate in America. The debate was whether high school education should be a universal right of every student. The country came to the conclusion that high school education should be provided free to all Americans. Today, we take it for granted.”

Padrón sums it up, “The message that I really am trying to convey to people constantly is the fact that we need to make sure that, in America, no one falls behind.”

Click here to learn more about Miami Dade College.

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