The QA Commons is mindful of the dramatic and transformational impact COVID-19 is having on all institutions of higher education. As an organization, we are adapting our services to support preparing graduates for the workplace that is now changing more precipitously than ever.
The QA Commons welcomes inquiries from interested institutions and systems interested in working with the QA Commons’ employability framework.
EEQ Certification is equal parts professional development, program enhancement, and student services. As much as the process inspires ideas for curricular and co-curricular enhancements, EEQ CERT helps draw out and highlight the activities and exercises within the curriculum that already develop employability skills.
Awareness matters. EEQ CERT helps faculty (and then students) understand what Essential Employabilities are, comprehend why they are important to employers, and articulate how they are developed through their academic or training program. Faculty and instructors attain an Employability Education certification, and learners earn digital Employability Skills badges based on specific activities within the program’s curricula.
These digital skills badges help students connect the dots between their education and employment, represent their employability skills in a job interview, and be more attuned to workplace culture and expectations once in a job.
In 2023, QA Commons was awarded a three-year grant from Ascendium Education Group. Funded through Ascendium’s Expand Postsecondary Education in Prison focus area, the project involves employability training for Career and Technical Education (CTE) instructors within the Missouri Department of Corrections, running select CTE programs through QA Commons’ EEQ Certification process, engaging formerly incarcerated persons with Success Coaches from the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Network (FICGN), issuing skills badges to learners and instructors, working with Missouri Community Colleges to accept more credits from prison education programs, and implementing a learning and evaluation plan for the project.
In a project that began in 2022, QA Commons is partnering with the Missouri Department of Corrections on an employability initiative with the goal of reducing recidivism through gainful Employment. Using its Employability Framework, QA Commons is training and certifying MDOC’s Employment Transition Specialist and Reentry Coordinators as well as updating MDOC’s employability curriculum that is delivered to its incarcerated population.
QA Commons partnered with Shippensburg University’s Office of Workforce Development to construct a methodological process and accompanying materials for program selection, development, and execution of noncredit programming. Specifically, QA Commons designed: (1) a course development proposal form allowing faculty and or employers to formally pitch a noncredit course for university approval; (2) a labor market guide to assessing economic need and employer engagement, and (3) an instructor interview protocol to gauge teaching aptitude and content knowledge.
QA Commons is serving as the third-party evaluator for the SEMI Foundation’s Career and Apprenticeship Network (SCAN), a new Registered Apprenticeship program for the microelectronics industry. The SCAN model provides the foundational and specialized skills needed for microelectronics employment, namely entry-level technicians, operators, and other professionals. To implement SCAN, the SEMI Foundation has received a grant commitment from the Michigan Strategic Fund.
QA Commons is pleased to serve as a third-party evaluator for the Pennsylvania State System for Higher Education (PASSHE)’s #Prepared4PA project. Through a contract with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL), QA Commons is evaluating the project’s pilot programs offering innovative programs and opportunities that prepare students for successful lives and careers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Sponsored by the PASSHE Foundation, the initiative enables PASSHE to build a robust talent pipeline and develop industry-education-workforce collaboratives that encourage alignment and connections within the workforce ecosystem. #Prepared4PA is meaningfully linking education and industry by strengthening university partnerships with businesses and industries, supporting our current and future workforce.
In 2023, select DEAC-accredited schools are engaging in QA Commons’ Employability Exploration. Through this exercise, faculty, staff, and instructors “explore” student employability through survey responses and a corresponding report on strengths and areas for opportunity.
In partnership with the Gardner Institute in 2023, QA Commons is exploring how postsecondary institutions can best gain faculty and staff support for the emerging focus on post-completion outcomes.
With an institution-wide commitment to demonstrating the employability of graduates through third-party review, programs from each of the university’s academic colleges are participating in the Essential Employability Qualities Certification (EEQ CERT) process in 2021. Those colleges are the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Hutson School of Agriculture, the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, the College of Education and Human Services, and the School of Nursing and Health Professions.
Commencing in early 2020, the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities (CSCU) will execute a partnership with The QA Commons to undertake an initial, self-assessment, phase of EEQ Certification. CSCU will use this rigorous process to build program and institutional capacity to assure the quality of credentials from an employability perspective.
27 programs from nine Connecticut colleges and universities will participate and will include both liberal arts and workforce-type disciplines. The knowledge gained from the self-assessment will contribute to the System’s building a new program review process, with thoughtful and relevant student learning outcomes as the principal element.
In 2018 the Kentucky Council for Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the QA Commons teamed up to work on a statewide employability initiative. A leader in this area, Kentucky was the first state in the nation to have programs achieve EEQ Certification. Check out the video to hear Aaron Thompson, President of the CPE, share his views on the impact of our collaboration.
In 2017, Lumina Foundation gave QA Commons its start with a significant grant to explore, develop, and test alternative approaches to quality assurance in postsecondary education.
The project was housed at the National Center for Higher Education Management Statistics (NCHEMS), and the project’s first step was to create a set of Essential Employability Qualities (EEQs). The EEQs were described as qualities credential holders should develop to be positioned for success after graduation. The EEQs were then applied in an innovative program-level certification process to ensure that graduates are well-prepared for the 21st-century workforce.
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