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.
“While institutions have a responsibility to prepare students for careers, it is the faculty who have access and opportunity to fulfill that responsibility,” said Dr. Janna Vice, the QA Commons’ Director of the Kentucky Employability Project and the co-designer of the “Faculty Fellows” program. “The Faculty Fellows have built projects that maximize their voice, access, and opportunity to improve the academic experiences of students,” she said.
The Faculty Fellows program was designed to engage faculty more deeply in creating cultures supporting employability. The ten-month program was designed to engage faculty more deeply in creating campus cultures supporting employability. Fellows engage directly with regional and statewide employers and policy makers and undertake original impact-oriented projects. Through this direct interaction and collaboration with mentors and other Fellows, faculty learn first-hand about their region’s workforce needs, hear employer concerns and perceptions of the role higher education needs to play, and share their successes and challenges in attempting to address these workforce needs with other Fellows and institutional colleagues. The Fellowship culminates in an impact project to develop greater employability within the Faculty Fellow’s school or institution.
“The Impact Project demonstrates how we make meaningful change in our College(s) (and in the context of the larger University),” note Lee Ferrell and Amanda Lawrence from the University of Kentucky. “This plan will impact approximately 1000 new students each year. When fully in place, it will impact all Business & Economics undergraduate students (approximately 4500-5000).”
Through its work on the EEQ Certification process, the QA Commons has found that having “faculty champions” on campus, with heightened understanding of the need to embed employability skills in the curriculum, is essential.
“Over the academic calendar year, Fellows developed greater awareness of their role to influence education and workforce systems,” said Brad Clark, co-designer of the “Faculty Fellows” program, and Senior Advisor at QA Commons. “The quality and variety of the Impact Projects speak to the Fellows’ increasing confidence, competence, and credibility within their institutions and across the Commonwealth.”
The Faculty Fellows program enhances members’ ability to connect and communicate with employers. As the QA Commons continues to work with academic institutions to close the employability gap, engaging faculty in professional-development opportunities will be a top priority.
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