Promising Practices for Developing Essential Employability Qualities

In the 2017-18 academic year, The QA Commons partnered with 27 programs from 14 colleges and universities to co-design the Essential Employability Qualities Certification. As a result of our work together, we identified several programmatic and institutional promising practices to support students’ development of these qualities. Below are brief descriptions of these promising practices.

Employability is the ability to find, create and sustain work and learning across lengthening working lives and multiple work settings.

EEQ Development & Assessment

  • Degree programs intentionally designed to develop, address, and assess expected EEQ exit proficiencies so there is assurance that all students will graduate from the program fully prepared.
  • Applied research projects designed to addresses real problems in a partner employer’s organizations.
  • Course-embedded community service projects that allow students to directly apply their learning to real community needs.
  • Specific assignments designed so that students can learn content while also practicing different EEQs (e.g., written proposals, presentations, team-based formats, etc.).
  • Experiential learning pathways that allow students to apply their learning in work-relevant situations at several points throughout a program.
  • Team-based capstone projects situated in workplaces and co-taught with employers.
  • Classes co-taught with employers; employers involved in directly assessing student work.

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Career Development, Planning, and Support

  • Courses intentionally designed to support students in understanding the world of work and its expectations.
  • Career development programming integrated across the curriculum and over time, such as embedded career planning activities in courses.
  • Guest speakers from industries and organizations embedded in courses to engage students in considering industry or organization-specific career possibilities.
  • A cross-campus integrated approach to career preparedness through civic engagement.

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Student Records

  • Enhanced student records that convey students’ EEQ development and outcomes in visually accessible and appealing ways.
  • Competency-based badging practices that communicate students’ abilities in visible, verifiable ways.

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Employer Engagement

  • Employer engagement models that go well beyond a traditional Advisory Board into authentic partnerships, or even “employer-attached” curriculum and pedagogy (where employers serve as co-faculty and assessors of student work).
  • Employers and programs working together to develop and test new approaches, such as badging, developing talent pipelines through partnerships, and work-integrated learning modules.

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Graduate / Alumni Feedback

  • Use of findings from well-designed alumni surveys, which address not only program satisfaction but also graduates’ sense of preparedness for employment, graduate employment outcomes, and feedback for program improvement.
  • Purposeful inclusion of alumni who employ program graduates into advisory boards or other feedback mechanisms.

We’re grateful to our partner programs for their contributions to this work! Read the full EEQ CERT Pilot Finding Report HERE.

New Resource: The Partnership Continuum

We’ve just added a great new resource over on our Resources page: The Partnership Continuum from UIDP.

The UIDP’s Partnership Continuum (2012) is a way of thinking about how academia and industry can interact for mutual benefit, often in ways which contribute to national growth. The publication was developed by a team of professionals from each of these sectors with the goal of demonstrating the myriad of ways universities and companies interact with one another.

New Resource: Merging Work and Learning to Develop the Human Skills that Matter

We just added a few new resources to our Resource Library. This one in particular will be of interest to programs and institutions looking to redesign their curricular approach and partner with employers to better address the Essential Employability Qualities in their educational programs.

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Merging Work and Learning to Develop the Human Skills that Matter – from Pearson and Jobs for the Future.

This report showcases promising practices from the US and UK to suggest a forward looking agenda for education and training, moving from uncertainty to the economic advancement of all learners. Some of the strategies profiled include:

  • competency-based education, which allows learners to show what they know as soon as they know it and move quickly to the next level;
  • employer and industry-led models, which radically lower the opportunity costs of education by providing further training on the job;
  • the latest labor market intelligence tools and techniques, which provide educators with powerful insights into the changing skills marketplace;
  • dynamic and work-based pedagogy, to instill the critical skills needed for the future of work; and
  • new pathways and business models that support access and completion for learners at any point in their career and at virtually any income level.

 

Defining and Delivering on Quality in Higher Education: The EEQ CERT

In early June, The QA Commons concluded the Essential Employability Qualities Certification (EEQ CERT) Pilot, in which we partnered with 27 programs from 14 colleges and universities to co-design a new approach to assuring that graduates are prepared for the 21st century world of work. Key aspects of this initiative include addressing quality as well as equity gaps in learning and preparation:

We know that high-quality credentials beyond high school can transform lives — that they open doors to economic opportunity and social mobility and help individuals flourish in a challenging world. But we also know that not everyone who pursues learning beyond high school actually gets a high-quality experience. Too few even get to the finish line and earn a credential. And some who do, still struggle to find employment and succeed in today’s workplace.

Quality Assurance Commons and the EEQs will help address this gap. They also will help institutions make good on an equally urgent promise of closing equity gaps in access to quality experiences and in post-graduation outcomes. QA Commons pilot efforts and other research show that far too few institutions gather and use enough good data on how well their students learn and how they fare after graduation. Moreover, even when collecting data, far too few institutions disaggregate their data to uncover hidden inequities in access to quality experiences — especially across different racial/ethnic groups.

Read the full article by Debra Humphreys HERE.

We are grateful to Lumina Foundation for its wonderful support of this initiative.

The EEQ CERT Pilot – Recent Conference Presentations

The QA Commons team and several EEQ CERT pilot partners have been on the road, presenting at conferences and getting the word out about our Essential Employability Qualities Certification pilot and our initial findings.

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Slide from DEAC Conference presentation about the pilot program learning community.

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Student Success Summit – with Niesha Ziehmke, Guttman Community College and Joan Cook, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater

Assuring Graduates are Prepared for the 21st Century Workforce – A Model for Kentucky?

Distance Education Accrediting Commission Conference – with Kimberley Winfield and Christine Jax, Ashworth College

The Essential Employability Qualities Certification: A New Approach to Address Employer Needs and Assure Program Quality

WASC Senior College & University Commission – with Laurie Dodge, Brandman University

Bridging the Gap: Assuring Graduate Readiness for the 21st Century with Essential Employability Qualities

Integrating 21st Century Skills into the College Classroom – A New Course Offering

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In response to growing interest in teaching “21st century skills” at the postsecondary level, Matt Hora (author of Beyond the Skills Gap) has developed an online 7-week survey course at UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies on the topic.

Check out the course info HERE.

The course is designed to give faculty and instructors an introduction to the research behind four skills – communication, teamwork, self-regulated learning, and critical thinking – and practical tips on how to integrate them into college courses.  The course also takes a critical look at the skills discourse surrounding 21st century skills, and emphasizes disciplinary approaches to curriculum design and instruction.  Through video-taped lectures, course readings, online annotation, and case study problems, the goal of the course is to help learners transform an existing lesson plan or course syllabus to prominently feature one of the four skills.  They hope that the course will be a valuable resource for faculty developers, instructors hoping to improve their teaching, and for anyone interested in skills-related issues.