For more insights on the role of higher education in bridging the skills gap to prepare 375 million skilled workers by 2030, read the full report “Developing Skills and Evaluating Pathways Into Jobs: A Vision for 2030” from Emerge Education and Coursera.
More than ever, the job-relevancy of students is tied to the skills they learn in their studies. However, students face a job and skills landscape that is constantly evolving. Businesses are betting big on emerging technologies and digitization, yet nearly 46% of companies do not have the right skills within their existing workforce to fully utilize them.
Higher education institutions have an opportunity to ensure their curricula reflects the skills needs of the labor force. According to a recent Gallup and Strada Education Network research report, only 34% of college students feel adequately prepared to face their jobs, and 89% of employers feel that college grads are not job-ready. Apple CEO, Tim Cook, states that there is a “mismatch between the skills that are coming out of colleges and what the skills are that we believe we need in the future.”
In its latest report, “Developing Skills and Evaluating Pathways Into Jobs: A Vision for 2030,” Emerge Education and Coursera examine how the relationship between higher ed and industry can evolve to better enable pathways into the workforce.
As featured in the report, here are six best practices higher education institutions can put in place now to build the skills needed for the workplace of the future:
1. Play your part in communities of practice
A fragmented skills landscape is the result of limited collaboration and inefficient knowledge sharing between professionals and educational providers, such as higher education institutions. By building and participating in communities of practice, education and industry can develop standard competencies and similar language for a more consistent understanding of the skills needed.
2. Wake up to microcredentials
Academic qualifications are years behind employer skill demands, and employers often struggle to understand the core skills demonstrated by academic qualifications. Embedding skills-oriented digital badges in existing courses can start an employability or skills passport for learners to build on even after they leave formal education. As part of ongoing curriculum review, faculty members could identify industry-relevant credentials aligned to existing learning content for every course.
3. Act on data in curriculum decisions
Institutions still underestimate the disconnect between education, learner skills proficiencies, current industry demand, and future skills requirements. It can be difficult to consult with employers at scale on curriculum design, and businesses themselves often don’t know which skills are required for their digital transformation. More data-driven decisions are needed.
Using benchmark data can help educational institutions better understand industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more. Institutions can then audit curriculum to identify new opportunities for employer involvement in placements, projects and assessments. The result of aligning programs with market opportunities is that students will get the education they need to be prepared to thrive in a competitive job market.
4. Get serious about digital roles
The most successful colleges and universities are investing to build their capacity for digital expertise internally. While all staff need some level of digital literacy, only certain roles require people to become digital experts. Institutions need to invest in learning technology professionals with specific skills in designing, procuring and implementing edtech, and training other staff to use it effectively. The Association of Learning Technology provides information on the changing needs of institutions, the growth of this role, and examples of how institutions are investing right now.
5. Track learning in real-time
Generic learning objectives assess the same critical skills over and over again across different levels. However, tracking learning with a variety of data points can provide meaningful, granular insights into learner progress and outcomes in real-time. For example, the University of Northampton uses changemaker goals on graduate employability as part of a toolkit to inform learning outcomes.
6. Be ready for tomorrow’s jobs
While most institutions already have an employer engagement strategy, all should have a specific segment that focuses on emerging industries and future jobs to ensure that colleges, universities, and employers work together to better prepare for and respond to rapidly evolving circumstances.
Creating partnerships with local enterprises can act as a hub for this process and ensure a consistent understanding of the skills landscape.