Education, Political & Corporate Thought Leaders Gather Over Research Findings on the Gap Between 21st Century Mindsets & 21st Century Skills

Ann Domorad, American Councils for International Education; Tom Gauthier Johnson & Wales University; Dr. Carol O’Donnell, Smithsonian Science Education Center; Houston Hou, SKT Education & Beyond; and Leslie Cruz, Freehold DECA.

DECA, DECA’s National Advisory Board, and the National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA) hosted an impactful symposium at the AT&T Forum that explored the topic of 21st Century Mindsets vs. 21st Century Skills: How Do We Bridge the Gap?

Notable leaders in the education community, policy makers, corporate leaders and thought leaders gathered to confer on the many exciting, new and urgently necessary opportunities that exist for collaboration between the business, education and public policy sectors. The NRCCUA presented their most recent findings on the topic from a special report that was released at the event. Findings included six mindsets that are pervasive among college-bound high school students.

In her featured remarks, Deputy Administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Althea (Allie) Coetzee Leslie highlighted SBA’s support for DECA. “The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and DECA share a common goal, to promote our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit that will be carried forward for generations to come. As students explore their options and discover their path, the SBA stands ready to educate, mentor, and develop young entrepreneurs.”

In his featured address, Dr. Michael Wooten, Acting Assistant Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges at the U.S., Department of Education, remarked, “Over one hundred years ago, America put forth a strategy to prepare our next generation for college, careers and community leadership.  Our world has changed drastically since then, and higher education must too evolve. As we continue to think strategically about opening up multiple pathways to success post-high school for our nation’s students, strategic partnerships between the education community, policy makers and corporate leaders will play a critical role. The demands of the 21st Century workforce require it.”

John Fistolera, DECA’s Assistant Executive Director for External and Corporate Affairs, emphasized the importance of leadership and cooperation. “DECA’s mission and purpose is to work with thought leaders, like those gathered at this Forum, to ensure that the next generation of leaders are prepared for college and career success. It’s a dynamic partnership that empowers our students to understand the pathways available to them and provides our partners keen insight into the future of their business models.”

“Understanding the mindset of our next generation workforce is something that AT&T pays a great deal of attention to,” said Jamie Zamora, Lead, Community Engagement, AT&T. “It’s critical to our long-term sustainability and plans for growth.  Working with DECA is one of our strategies to understanding the issue and filling the gap.”

“We are thrilled to share our findings at the DECA Thought Leadership Forum,” said Bryan Contreras, Vice President for K12 & Education Partnerships, NRCCUA. “Our national research reveals that there is a gap between the mindsets of students and the traditional college and workplace skills. The good news is that our students are eager to succeed, and thanks to research like ours, we are able to offer insights to help our colleagues in post-secondary address student academic and developmental needs.”


DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe through a comprehensive learning program that integrates into classroom instruction, applies learning, connects to business and promotes competition.

DECA Inc. is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit student organization with more than 200,000 members in all 50 United States and nine foreign countries.  The United States Congress, the United States Department of Education and state, district and international departments of education authorize DECA’s programs.

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Categories: Advisors, DECA News, High School