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Education | Future of Work | Workforce Development |

The System Lives Upstream

By Jason Jansky | CareerWise director of marketing communications

Have you heard the parable about the two friends who were fishing on the bank of a river?

As soon as they sat down, they hear shouts for help from the water. A small child was in the river, so they launched into the water to save them. No sooner did they have the first child safely on shore, then another child floated downstream struggling to keep her head above the water. The pair of friends leapt back into the river to save this child, too.

In short order they had the second child on shore, and, you guessed it, another child in distress was in the water.

At this point, one of the friends stood up and started running up the hill. The other one, who had already started into the water to save the child, said, “where are you going? This kid needs help!”

“I’m going upstream to find out who keeps throwing these kids in the river!”

It’s hard to take our attention away from the problems in front of us. But many of these problems are results of systemic issues—things that are happening upstream and largely out of our immediate field of view. Without addressing the system itself we will always have drowning kids in our river.

The good news is we don’t have to do just one or the other. We have fantastic teachers, counselors and all manner of good, dedicated people focusing on our downstream problems. We also have an increased interest from K12, higher ed and state and federal government in addressing our upstream, systemic problems.

If you’re an employer, there’s a role for you, too. You can be a leader in a historic shift to modernize our education system by recognizing work-based learning credentials, ultimately multiplying career pathways for young people and expanding talent pipelines for industry.

CareerWise is always on the lookout for industry leaders that want to make a difference. Drop us a line of that sounds like you.

PS—if you’re interested in this kind of upstream thinking, we first heard the included parable on this Next Big Idea podcast episode.