Fareed Zakaria on Staying Competitive in the Knowledge Economy

As technology continues to shift, what will employees look for in their job candidates and how can education best prepare tomorrow’s workforce?


At the Global Education & Skills Forum, Big Think sat down with Fareed Zakaria, the host of CNN’s flagship foreign affairs show and New York Times bestselling author of The Post-American World, to discuss education in the 21st century.

Knowing how to learn, according to Zakaria, is a skill that will never be phased out.

“What’s crucial is not the particular set of skills you have, but that you demonstrate a capacity to acquire them,” he says. For this reason, accreditation is important, for job candidates and employers alike. Zakaria calls it the “holy grail” of education.

Universities earn a lot of money providing employers with a “filtering system”: The top companies want to hire students from the top schools. The rising access to high-quality and affordable online education allows more people to learn from professors who teach classes at elite schools like Harvard and Stanford. Will accreditation from such programs matter to employers as much as having attended the four-year brick-and-mortar version, complete with the dorm room experience?

“If employers start treating those pieces of paper, those accreditations as worth a lot, that completely changes the nature of education,” he says. “[Then] what you are being paid for is really outcome related.  It is related to what skills have you acquired rather than process related.”

Zakaria does see the rise in online accreditation programs as a way to help people learn the skills that they need in order to advance in their fields. For more on his take on how to stay competitive in the knowledge economy, watch a clip from Big Think’s interview:

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