9 recommendations for closing higher ed’s workplace skills gap

Career College Central Summary:

  • One of the latest assaults on the ivory tower comes from the New America think tank, which recently published a report on the gap between what higher education offers to students and what they need to land jobs.
  • The report, “Beyond the Skills Gap: Making Education Work for Students, Employers and Communities,” is by Mary Alice McCarthy, a senior analyst at New America. She lays out the problems with higher ed institutions and government policy in providing students what they’ll need to get jobs and keep jobs, and she provides some recommendations for fixing those problems. One example of the problem cited in the report: A student in Michigan looking to become a medical assistant could choose from 59 certificate programs in the state, with wide differences in time to completion, financial aid, credit hours, value toward an associate degree, wait time, and cost — $4,000 to $20,000.
  1. To have any chance in today’s job market, you need a college degree.
  2. Post-secondary certificates are the fastest-growing higher education credentials.
  3. Multiple surveys show that employers believe graduates aren't prepared for the workplace.
  4. Vocational education at the college level is often neglected, looked down on, or ignored by policy makers and college administrators.
  5. The report recommends reframing the Higher Education Act to create stronger ties with federal education and workforce training programs.
  6. Accreditation should focus on student outcomes.
  7. Improved data collection on student outcomes will help hold colleges accountable.
  8. A better credentials system is needed for students in career education programs.
  9. More focus on development and acceptance of competency-based programs is necessary for their success.

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