Cuevas, Matveev, and Miller's (2010) article Mapping General Education Outcomes in the Major: Intentionality and Transparency is a well-known proposal for curriculum development that advocates for the inclusion of General Education strands within the specialized programs of study of major educational institutions. The main issue that they want to resolve is summarized in that there is an
...increased intensity of employers' demands for institutions to significantly enhance efforts in facilitating and ensuring student development of transferable general education competencies.
This is significant. It entails that somewhere along our rapidly-changing world, we have taken general education competencies for granted. Instead, we have moved on to specialized skills which will inevitably require the schema that can only be built with the core courses of general education.
The purpose of general education courses is to give the student-apprentice the opportunity to obtain a well-rounded education where all disciplines are re-visited. The skills learned in a general education program are the building blocks that strengthen our ability for critical thinking and basic problem solving. A well-rounded scholar must stimulate both sides of their brain, the technical and the non-technical, to create a balanced schema from which new ideas and creativity can surface. To use some famous last words: "If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you have always got". Learning multiple skills makes us flexible, creative, and skilled to deal with different situations. Multi-tasking and malleability are the core of the well-rounded professional of the 21st century.
Although high school courses do cover most of the general education requirements that are taught during the freshman year of college, what many curriculum developers are trying to do is to include these disciplines as part of specialized plans of study without having to dedicate an entire year to it. This means that all courses will touch upon general competencies, or at least that is the idea. If current employers are begging for employees to "know the basics", it is definitely time to start doing it.
There is currently a growing need for skill-based work in the form of software development, computational linguistics, and instructional design- this is in academia. Even more strong is the need for other types of skill-based work such as plumbing, electrical engineering, and other fields of service. As a result, technical colleges are booming, as they are offering programs that will almost guarantee a job upon graduation. The article by Cuevas, Maveev and Miller states that these programs need to get back on GenEd courses as well.
Meanwhile, as curriculum developers try to find a way to connect general competencies with intensively-focused study programs, current graduates may be joining the workforce with plenty of knowledge about their particular skill, but lacking knowledge in anything else. Imagine working with someone who is extremely smart in computers but cannot read a book, or write a complete sentence. What does this say about the college preparation programs of the US Educational system? It says that we are only creating half-professionals, and that we are not wholly educating our students.Therefore, a balance must be created in curriculum design to help educate students completely.