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Old job skills no longer enough

January 15, 2009

Two animated film clips grabbed the attention of some Academy School District 20 high school students during a workshop Thursday on what kinds of technology-related jobs might be available in their future.

They got to ponder the use of light and shadows, movement and the like after viewing previews for "Delgo" and "Open Season," films animated with the use of Maya software that Lanka Elson, chairwoman of the Information Technology Department at Colorado Technical University used in her demonstration.

In the session about computer graphics, Elson told the students about a number of related career possibilities, especially for those who enjoy learning to use new software. But other skills are needed, too, she said.

Creating an animated character for a film? Might be useful to know something about anatomy.

Building a three dimensional set? Better learn geometry.

Not to mention the need for skills to write a script.

The idea behind the series of workshops, sponsored by Junior Achievement and colleges for about 300 high school students, was to help them see what kinds of skills they might need for careers in the 21st Century. There also were workshops on health care, economics, civic and political literacy and global awareness.

With the rapid technological changes and the globalization of the economy, students can expect to have multiple careers or jobs in their lifetime. So instead of holding "career fairs" where students talk to employers about what jobs are available right now, it's important to have students prepare the skill sets they will need in the future rather than honing in on a specific career, said David Loose, president and chief executive officer for Junior Achievement of Southern Colorado.

Thursday's workshops were part of a pilot project that JA launched this year in conjunction with Colorado's efforts to emphasize educating students for the 21st Century. Loose said JA is working with D-20 this year; if the pilot is successful, the organization plans to expand the program to other districts. Its partners for Thursday's program included the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Community College, but numerous other business and education leaders took part.

Before the students headed to workshops, PPCC President Tony Kinkle offered some advice: "You might want to look at jobs that they won't outsource" and start taking college course as soon as possible - during the summer or outside of regular high school classes. Those who start college early, he said, are more likely to get a college degree.

Several students said they thought the program was a great idea, but a few were disappointed that they didn't get in the group of their choice.

Air Academy High School senior Shey Tolbert plans to go into nursing and had requested the Health Care for the Future group, but ended up in Global Awareness. Still, she said, the discussions about broader world issues were interesting. She even suggested that JA offer a generalized program in students' sophomore year, then return in their senior year with a more focused program. In any case, she said, the JA program "should be a required field trip for everyone."


Contact the Writer: 636-0251 or  




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