By Wei-Lin Chen
There is growing skepticism among students and parents, the private sector, the media and the government about the benefits of higher education degrees. People want to know whether credentials turn into a job, or whether credentials fuel a career.
Chris Bustamante, Rio Salado College (AZ); Stephanie A. Bond Huie, The University of Texas System; and Belinda S. Miles, Westchester Community College (NY) shared their own experiences in creating strong connections among higher education institutions, the local community, boards of regents and students during the ACE2017 session “Employability and Higher Education.” They articulated how colleges and universities identify best practices for promoting student success and workforce outcomes through data-driven job market analyses.
Given the shortage of government funding, colleges and universities face challenges such as increasing enrollment of nontraditional students, competition from peers and demands from students for better on-campus career services. In order to bolster student success, higher education institutions need to foster:
Innovative attainment pathways
Institutions need to develop customized, higher-quality online systems to provide students access to information regarding their class requirements, college affordability and earnings after graduation. Meanwhile, such online systems can allow institutions to track the learning progress of students and provide timely assistance and advice.
Colleges and universities have to partner with government agencies, businesses and organizations to provide customized education and training for workforce development. Educational partnerships enable institutions to develop richer a curriculum and teach students skills that are in shortage in the labor market, increasing the job readiness and competitiveness of students.
Data-driven job market analyses
Higher education institutions need to gather data and create databases to provide students with information on the labor market and global economy. Databases also can offer students information regarding college affordability, including tuition and fees, graduation rates, financial aid, and earnings, and data-driven analyses provide evidence about the benefits of postsecondary degrees.
Institutions have to focus on challenges and develop new strategies to gear up their campuses and students for success. Then, they can demonstrate how higher education contributes to their communities.