In order to justify the value of higher education today, transformational change is paramount.
How can we justify the value of higher education? Are certifications becoming more relevant? How can universities match the skills employers require from new graduates?
Addressing a virtual session at Fierce Education’s “Higher Education: Business & Leadership — Summer Edition,” Dr. Jill Buban, Vice President and General Manager at EdAssist Solutions by Bright Horizons answered these and other questions.
There is an undeniable skills gap calling for higher education transformation. Colleges and universities’ traditional degrees are not as appealing as they used to be. Many institutions believe there is a need for a change in their curriculum in order to incorporate non-credit learning to provide students with the required job market skills and create micro-credentials and certifications, such as the Cisco Certification, to reflect the needs of today’s market.
“There is a large skills gap in America, ”emphasized Dr. Buban.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2022, there are 11.5 million jobs open right now in the United States. However, employers struggle to find the skillful talent they need. According to Dr. Buban, this could be because “skills have a shorter shelf life, so the gap is widening fast.” Healthcare and IT are two particular areas with a need to focus on skills which should be constantly updated.
The skills gap is not exclusive to the U.S.; it is a global concern. It was recently announced that in the United Kingdom universities must include drop-out and graduate employment rates on course adverts under new government plans. This way, students can make informed decisions when choosing a career path and enrolling in courses.
“The pandemic truly did change everything, including the employer-employee relationship. The workforce is definitely demanding change,” said Dr. Buban.
Old skills vs. New skills
For Dr. Buban, some modern skills are more perishable than skills of the past and continuously re-skilling is a permanent feature of work. “Nearly one billion people will need to be up-skilled by 2032,” she said. “In addition, over 17 million American workers may need to switch occupations by the end of the decade.”
As a sector well known to move a little slowly, higher education now must be innovative and increase activity in the skills-based area by increasing innovation and speed. “To keep up with that ever changing workforce, it’s so important to have some agility in the education sector,” Dr. Buban said.
According to Bright Horizons Education Index 2021, workers share such a strong desire to learn, with 87 percent of workers believing that new skills are important for their growth.
Education is a win-win solution because:
- Solves many business talent challenges
- Addresses employees’ desire to learn
“Companies are changing the way they think about how they are investing in their workers via development opportunities and benefits,” said Dr. Buban. “People are looking for companies who care and invest in them and in their education.
Dr. Buban spoke about a great realignment, a need for skills as opposed to a degree and where those skills are. “In a recent study that we conducted it showed that 80 percent of workers would be more loyal to an employer that invests in their education, [ … ] and for companies that loyalty is very important.”
Dr. Buban explained that currently there are five generations in the workforce for the first time, all with different views and different approaches to education. The Millennial and Gen Z make up for nearly half of the workforce with the post-Millennial generation being the most diverse yet. The five generations understand that the ability to upskill quickly transitions into jobs. The Millennial are very keen to upskilling. And older generations are looking into upskilling through a certification.
The future of education comprises three areas:
- Education providers
Lastly, Dr. Buban offered three tips on how to become an education provider of choice:
- Embed skills-based learning into your curriculum
- Evaluate and partner with skills-based education tech companies
- Evolve and be nimble — provide credit for prior learning job skills
During the interactive chat portion of the session, global faculty members agreed upon the fact that colleges and universities need to acknowledge that the workplace is rapidly changing. New graduates must integrate academic knowledge and workplace skills in order to succeed in the current hybrid work environment.
To view this online session and other sessions now available on demand, please, register here.
For more articles from Fierce Education’s “Business & Leadership Summit,” see: