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ASU GSV Summit explores human potential through education

April 9, 2019

President Crow, Cindy McCain, others discuss refugee education, trafficking, companies' role in employees' educational journey

The ASU GSV Summit, which explores innovation and technology in education with a range of keynotes and industry experts, celebrated its 10th year at its annual conference this week in San Diego.

At several livestreamed events Monday and Tuesday, Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow discussed the access mission of higher education.

Empowering refugees with education

Crow held a “fireside chat” with Cindy McCain (pictured above), widow of the late Sen. John McCain, on Monday. They discussed her work with the McCain Institute for International Leadership at ASU in working with vulnerable populations around the world and the politically divisive atmosphere right now.

Technology and education is life-changing, McCain said.

“You take a country like Congo or Nigeria, a little bit of education can make a world of difference, especially when you’re talking about women’s empowerment,” she said.

Most people don’t want to believe that human trafficking exists in North America.

“To them, it happens in Vietnam, Cambodia or some place in Africa, but it happens right there,” she said. “Education is a large part of this, not only knowing what it is but knowing what you can do to stop it.”

Crow said that ASU is involved in deploying education assets to refugee areas in Africa and the Middle East.

“We’re using tools we’ve developed with companies here to project educational content and to allow us to create learning environments,” he said. “But the refugee situations are so large and complex and so daunting.”

RELATED: ASU offering rapidly deployable online courses to refugees

McCain said that it’s difficult to imagine a situation in which your only hope of saving your child is to leave your country.

“So what you end up with is the most vulnerable people who end up in the hands of traffickers,” she said. “Education becomes primary in this — not just educating them on the ability to understand what trafficking is so they can save themselves, but to continue their existence.”

Crow noted that the McCains spent more than 30 years in politics and that the current climate is based on partisanship.

“George Washington gave his inaugural address in 1790 and he talked about how to move the country forward, and he was very much against political parties,” he said.

“He said we could end up in a country in the distant future, where the parties become the actual contest rather than the ideas. Here we are 200-plus years later. Now it does seem like it’s more important for red to beat blue or for blue to beat red.”

McCain said that Americans can reclaim power by voting and by telling leaders “what you want, not what they want.”

“I also believe in the goodness of America,” she said. “I’ve lived long enough to see this pendulum swing from side to side to side, and I believe it will swing back and we’ll see this country change again for the right reasons. We’re being tested.”

Crow asked McCain about her husband’s legacy and the McCain Institute, which is housed at ASU in Washington, D.C., and gathers young leaders from around the world to learn about values and ethics.

“I had a long time while he was ill to talk to him about this,” she said. “It’s about a commitment to human rights, freedom of the press, cybersecurity and all the things that meant a great deal to him,” she said.

“It’s making sure we continue the discussions and the disagreements and begin to understand not only what’s important but how we can be a part of making it better.

“He was the eternal optimist.”

Four men speak onstage

At a Monday afternoon panel, (from left) moderator and InStride CEO Vivek Sharma, ASU President Michael M. Crow, Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and Steve Ellis, managing partner at TPG Growth and the Rise Fund, discuss the ways in which companies can help their employees' education journey. Photo by Robert Behnke/EdPlus at ASU 

Helping companies create lifelong learners

Crow also spoke on a panel Monday that explored how companies should help their employees attain higher education and have a more humane view of the labor force.

“In the past, in American capitalism, we viewed labor as a commodity,” he said.

“I’m hoping companies will take a new view of the worker, as a human being that each company has a responsibility to help move forward and be adaptable for the next job — maybe in another company. It’s a whole new way to think about human capital as more than just a commodity.”

Last week, ASU announced that it is partnering with the Rise Fund — a global impact investing fund managed by TPG — on a new education enterprise called InStride, which will collaborate with employers to provide university degrees for employees. As the economy increasingly demands workers with knowledge and skills, university degrees — and the opportunity to pursue a higher education — become increasingly crucial. As the link between universities and employers, InStride aims to facilitate partnerships that will positively impact the lives of thousands of people.

ASU’s successful partnership with Starbucks, the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, is the catalyst for the new company, with plans for more employers and universities to be added in the coming months.

ASU, as the first university partner in this effort, offers a unique technology platform designed for scalable delivery of digital teaching and learning models to increase student success and reduce barriers to achievement in higher education. ASU Online offers more than 175 bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and certificate programs. InStride will work with employers to build education partnerships with ASU and other universities that meet the needs of their employees.

Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks, said on Monday that his company’s purpose is about more than profits.

“About five years ago, we observed that we have many partners struggling under loads of student debt to finish their educations,” he said. “It’s about helping our partners get that education that was out of reach.”

Johnson said about 12,000 Starbucks employees, called partners, are taking ASU classes through the program, with about 3,000 graduates so far.

“We find now that 50 percent of the graduates stay at Starbucks and get promoted faster and about 50 percent move on,” he said. “In new applicants for jobs at Starbucks, nearly 20 percent indicate their primary reason is to get an education in partnership with ASU.”

Steve Ellis, managing partner at TPG Growth and the Rise Fund, said that a new model of education accessed via the workplace could help ease income inequality.

“We know that between a third and one half of income inequality, which has expanded dramatically over the years, can be attributed to a lack of high-quality continuing education,” he said.

“What would it take for us to create a movement that would make this a responsibility of all corporations and organizations? There was more than $800 billion of company stock bought back in 2018. What if we spent a tiny fraction of that to create programs like the Starbucks College Achievement Plan?”

Crow said that the old-fashioned linear model of education in which children go to school, then college and then the workplace — and are finished with education — no longer works.

“Let’s make every organization a learning enterprise. Let’s surround people with opportunities to learn and stop judging them based on their age or what neighborhood they came from or whether they got a B in college algebra in 1980,” he said.

“We all know that it’s about whether we can help people to fulfill the totality of their potential,” he said.  

Making the case for lifelong learning

Crow elaborated on the need for lifelong education at the keynote address on Tuesday morning, saying that rapid technological change will require workers to keep learning.

“We’d like to work against income disparity, and we’d like to provide for rapid economic growth,” he said. “We’d like to not have these huge ups and downs in the current cycle of the economy.”

ASU President Michael Crow speaks at ASU GSV Summit

Michael M. Crow

Crow said the current linear system of K-12, then vocational school or college, then workplace, is inadequate.

“It’s poorly designed, and it’s useful for the past but not useful for the future,” he said.

A universal learning system would provide opportunities for education throughout the lifespan and be accessible in the workplace. But designing that model is very difficult because there are many types of universities, and they all operate very differently from corporations. 

“There’s nothing systematic at scale given the tens of millions of people in the workplace who have not attained a higher level of credential,” he said.

So this would require a new kind of entity — a “boundary-spanning organization” — to take the knowledge content provided by the universities and customize it for access by the companies’ workforce.

“The mediating organization has a special set of skills and talent and the ability to understand the two different clock speeds and cultures,” he said.

“It would have the ability to design the special interfaces needed, the people and the technology and the analytics.”

Crow visualized the scenario as two blocks of Legos, the university and the company, connected by a white Lego, the mediating company.

“At ASU, we’ve been thinking about how we do this. We have lots of experience in building these kinds of relationships on our own,” he said, citing education partnerships with Starbucks, adidas and Uber.

“These are going very well, but we realized immediately that back at the university, our skill set is not best at designing these white Legos. It’s a completely different set of skills,” he said.

ASU has taken a step toward creating this model through the new InStride partnership, he said.

But scaling that design will require significant changes:

  • New technologies, such as artificial intelligence-based advising and teaching for every life stage. 
  • New policies, such as the creation of a new tax-advantaged, employer-sponsored tuition savings account and a new higher-education classification system.
  • New mindsets, such as a creation of a culture of reward around education and an increased awareness that learning doesn’t end at an arbitrary age.

Crow referenced the recent scandal in which wealthy parents were charged with bribing to get their children admitted to some universities.

“It means something is wrong with the design,” he said.

“But if you’re learning throughout your entire life, maybe you go to college when you’re 18 or 28 or 38. It’s a system that needs some serious rethinking.”

Top photo: ASU President Michael M. Crow and Cindy McCain talk about populations made vulnerable by unstable political situations and the role of education Monday at the ASU GSV Summit in San Diego. Photo by Robert Behnke/EdPlus at ASU 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


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License to thrive: Arizona bill would allow reciprocity for regulated professions

April 9, 2019

HB 2569 will recognize out-of-state occupational licenses, opening up ability to work in Arizona for many

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2019.

The Arizona Legislature recently passed HB 2569, a bill that would loosen occupational licensing laws in the state by recognizing out-of-state licenses as valid. Gov. Doug Ducey has been a vocal supporter of universal licensing recognition, suggesting that a person’s skills don’t diminish when they cross state lines, and the change will allow those who have moved from other states to “work faster and without all the red tape.”

To better understand the role of occupational licensing and what this change would mean for Arizona’s businesses and residents, ASU Now spoke with Stephen Slivinski, senior research fellow at the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty at Arizona State University.

Question: What is occupational licensing? What kinds of jobs in Arizona require a license?

Stephen Slivinski

Answer: Occupational licensing laws — which are state-specific laws that vary by state — require workers in certain occupations to first obtain a license from a government licensing board before they can hold a job in that field. Not all occupations in Arizona require a license, but many do.

The requirements to obtain a license vary by occupation and state, and generally consist of meeting a minimum number of training hours and paying a fee. Some licenses may require a specific degree, like a high school diploma or a college degree, or an apprentice period with an existing license holder. All states license doctors and lawyers, for instance, but not all states require a license for occupations like interior designer or animal breeder (and yes, some states do).

Currently, Arizona ranks as having one of the top five most burdensome licensing requirements in the nation overall, both in the number of occupations that are licensed and the number of training hours required. These burdens hit low-income workers the hardest: Over 65% of low-income occupations in Arizona require a license, and those jobs have some of the heaviest financial and training-based requirements when compared to other states.

Q: What would this bill do?

A: This bill would allow anyone with an existing license from another state — in good standing — to have instant reciprocity with Arizona. In other words, they would receive a “seal of approval” from the state of Arizona once they establish residency in the state, without having to take an Arizona licensing exam or logging the prescribed hours of training.

The bill does allow the state to decline this right of reciprocity for a disqualifying criminal history. Certain occupations would not be granted instant reciprocity, including those that require a security clearance.

Q: Will granting reciprocity weaken the ability of the state to protect consumers?

A: These laws are often justified on the basis that the state has a compelling interest in protecting consumers and citizens from “bad actors” or safeguarding public health. However, there is a consensus among economists and scholars that these requirements often do not line up with the actual risk to public health and safety. Barbers in Arizona, for instance, are required to log over 1,000 hours of training before they receive a license, while emergency medical technicians have to log 110 hours.

Academic studies have also found no significant difference in public health and safety outcomes in states that have higher licensing burdens when compared to those that are closer to the national average.

Q: What are the advantages to reciprocity?

A: The main advantage of license reciprocity is increased competition in licensed service sectors and, therefore, more choices and lower prices for consumers. It also makes Arizona instantly more attractive to workers and entrepreneurs already looking to relocate to Arizona to take advantage of our other competitive advantages, like climate and cost of living.

Studies indicate that interstate mobility — the likelihood that someone will relocate to another state to find work — is greatly reduced when licensing processes are perceived to be burdensome. Moreover, current Arizona residents who have avoided working in a particular field because their license is from another state can now work in a field that previously seemed off-limits. This sort of reform will have benefits to workers and employers as well as consumers.

Q: Do you expect this bill will encourage other states to grant licensing reciprocity? Will this become a trend?

A: I think this change will make Arizona instantly more attractive for workers and employers looking to relocate out of their current state. If this proves to be a compelling reason for people to relocate, it is very likely that other states will follow suit to try to gain a competitive edge. The Arizona reform is the first-of-its-kind in the nation so we will need to wait and see how this all plays out.

Views expressed in this interview belong solely to the professor, and not necessarily to the university.

Katherine Reedy