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 Approaches to Judging Quality

New Approaches

The QA Commons’ program-level quality assurance approach, the Essential Employability Qualities Certification — or EEQ CERT — was recently featured in this CHEA white paper (see pages 12-13): New Approaches to Judging Quality

 

Building Trust & Other Connecting Credentials Reports Released

Connecting Credentials just released five workgroup reports with important new insights on achieving a well-functioning, learner-centered credentialing ecosystem. Ralph Wolff and Melanie Booth from The QA Commons served as co-chairs with Nate Anderson from Jobs for the Future for the group that worked on Building Trust in the Quality of Credentials. This report outlines three conditions in which trust in quality credentials can be promoted: quality, evidence, and transparency.  From the report:
To build greater trust, we need improvements across the three domains of trust—quality, evidence and transparency. We need quality assurance processes to become more transparent and aligned with workforce needs and to promote adherence to, and continuous improvement of, these standards. We need more complete and comprehensive data collection and research/evaluation efforts to produce evidence of credential outcomes and value. We need increased transparency and much greater investment in guidance to help users make informed choices about a credential’s value for their purposes. To make informed choices, consumers, especially “first-generation learners,” need help and context to understand what data are important, what the data mean, and how to rely on evidence and data to make decisions.

The Building Trust report identifies some promising approaches in the field to address this issue, and concludes with a set of recommendations for action.

The five reports are:

  • Aligning Supply and Demand Signals – This workgroup describes the opportunity presented by the convergence of technology changes and increasing focus on competencies to transform hiring and job searches.
  • Improving Learner Mobility – This group recommended actions to strengthen the meaning and role for shorter-term credentials (certificates, certifications, badges, and more) in education and employment.
  • Making All Learning Counts a Reality – This group created a two-part model to help understand what learning doesn’t count for either educational credit or employment, and made recommendations centered on opportunities to ensure work-based learning is recognized for both purposes.

Each report contains an overview of the issue on which the workgroup focused, examples of promising practices, and recommended actions. This set of reports offers an important supplement to the recommended actions published a year ago in From National Dialogue to Collective Action: Building Learning-Based Credentialing Systems.