On March 19, 2018, the Commission on Higher Education and Employability released its final report, Learning for Life and Work. The report details 19 recommendations, as well as strategies for stakeholders to collaborate to increase the employability of the region’s graduates.
The report’s recommendations are grouped in 6 areas:
Effective Use of Labor Market Data and Intelligence
Targeted Higher Education-Industry Partnerships
Planning, Advising and Career Services
Work-integrated, Cooperative and Internship-based Learning
Thanks to Flazingo Photos for allowing use of this photo.
Two new resources have been added over on our Resources page – check them out:
Developing EmployABILITY: EmployABILITY is the ability to create and sustain meaningful work across the career lifespan. This is a developmental process which students need to learn before they graduate. The Developing EmployABILITY Initiative is a collaboration involving over 20 higher education institutions and over 400 scholars internationally. Our goal is to enable and embed employABILITY thinking in the curriculum. The Initiative is led by Professor Dawn Bennett at Curtin University. New collaborators are always welcome.The Developing EmployABILITY website for educators is full of resources to support developing employability qualities in students.
Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work just received the Ness Book Award at the 2018 AAC&U conference. I attended the authors’ session at the conference and learned quite a bit about their research and work in Wisconsin, and the connections to the Essential Employability Qualities Certification that we are developing. It was an informative and provocative session, with some critical considerations for higher educational programs seeking to make sure their graduates are prepared not just for their first jobs, but for a lifetime of employability in the changing world of work they will encounter.
Beyond the Skills Gap: Preparing College Students for Life and Work explores how educators can ensure that graduates are adequately prepared for the future, challenging the argument that sluggish economic growth is due to a higher education system insufficiently attuned to workplace needs, with the solution being more specialized technical training and fewer liberal arts graduates. The book’s authors challenge this conception of the “skills gap,” highlighting instead the value of broader twenty-first-century skills in postsecondary education. In the book, the authors advocate for a system in which employers share responsibility along with the education sector to serve the collective needs of the economy, society, and students. Beyond the Skills Gap emphasizes the critical role of educational practice and design in preparing students for the workforce and ensuring that future employees develop robust technical expertise, cultivate problem-solving and communication skills, transfer abstract knowledge to real-world situations, and foster a lifelong aptitude for self-directed learning.
HERE is a link to the session slides posted by Matt Hora, one of the book’s authors and the key presenter at the session. Take a look at slide #14 about classroom methods. Also, check out the “Six things we need to do” at the end. Many of these actions align to our Draft Criteria for Certification – Version 2. What do you think?
While we have been co-designing the Essential Employability Qualities Certification (EEQ CERT) with 27 partner programs from 14 colleges and universities, we have also been gathering feedback from a variety of employer representatives and employers. We have been committed all along to engaging with employer perspectives in the design of our new approach to quality assurance, in part because their voices have traditionally been absent from quality assurance approaches (with the exception of a few professional accreditors), but also because truly bridging the gap between higher education and the workforce requires such kinds of partnerships.
Read our first report with employer representative feedback here:
As a result of analyzing the Inventories of Practice and Evidence that all 27 EEQ CERT pilot programs submitted, The QA Commons’ team is happy to publicly release a substantial revision to the draft Criteria for EEQ Certification. This new version — version 2 — will be tested during phase 2 of the pilot co-design process in spring 2018, when programs submit program portfolios of evidence. Please feel free to a look and offer any comments for consideration in the comments box below:
In attending the conference, we also learned about a lot of programs and institutions doing good work in the areas we are exploring: engaging students in assessment; assuring high quality experiential learning opportunities for students to apply their learning to work-based contexts; documenting and assessing student learning with ePortfolios; etc. We’re eager to soon share some new resources as a result on our Resource webpage, so check back soon!
The Quality Assurance Commons is working with 27 programs from 14 higher educational institutions to co-design and pilot a new approach to program-level quality assurance that focuses on developing students’ Essential Employability Qualities (EEQs). These EEQs include:
People skills such as collaboration, teamwork and cross-cultural competence;
Problem-solving abilities such as inquiry, critical thinking and creativity; and
Professional strengths such as communication, work ethic and technological agility.
We have several research questions guiding this work, which we are addressing together during the pilot process, including:
Do the draft criteria reflect the needs of students and employers and support program effectiveness?
What are the most relevant and useful indicators of success for each criterion?
What data are publically available, relevant, and useful in identifying program performance and outcomes vis-à-vis the criteria?
What is the best way to validate and evaluate data provided by an institution or program?
What are the best ways to connect program outcomes with institutional support services, such as career services, student advising, etc.?
In what ways will the quality assurance process provide value to institutions and programs while not creating additional reporting burdens?
How can EEQ Certification communicate program quality and performance successfully to students, employers, community members, and other external stakeholders as well as to the institution and/or program being reviewed?
How might the certification approach best be aligned with other quality assurance processes, such as program reviews and regional, national, and programmatic accreditation?
We are also exploring the delicate but essential balance between developing a rigorous process so that a certification can be meaningful to employers and students with the reality of programs’ capacity.
What other questions should we try to address as we work with our partner programs to develop this approach? Let us know in the comments below!