Our response to COVID19

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.


QA Commons’ vision is to ensure all programs of study prepare learners for successful future employment. Our focus is on the proficiencies employers say are most needed, which candidates often lack, and are the hardest to find. Known as employability skills, soft skills, or noncognitive skills, we characterize them as Essential Employability Qualities (EEQs).

EEQs are necessary to continuously succeed in the workforce. These skills are universally needed across different careers and jobs. In fact, they’re not just useful and required in jobs, they form the basis for how we interact with others in various day-to-day encounters.


“The foundation of a career in a highly technical field is a set of non-cognitive skills that is necessary in every industry, such as basic literacy, communication, teamwork, and critical thinking. Without these skills, no amount of technical training will be sufficient; lacking such a foundation makes the technical skills simply “fall through,” which helps explain why technical skill–training programs, especially those for disadvantaged populations, simply do not yield the results their designers and implementers hope for…”
- American Enterprise Institute

92% of executives say soft skills are equal to or more important than hard skills
Wall Street Journal

89% of talent professionals said bad hires typically lack soft skills

70% of employers report difficulty hiring graduates with the soft skills they need -

86% of students state getting a job is their primary reason for attending college -


Quality Assurance (QA) Commons was founded in 2016 with a grant from the Lumina Foundation and support from the National Center for Education Management Systems (NCHEMS). We ensure all learners are prepared for the changing dynamics of the workforce and economy through a range of services – from helping embed Essential Employability Qualities (EEQs) into courses and curriculum – to training instructors and staff on employability and deploying our programmatic accreditation.

Through considerable research and a national pilot project, QA Commons has identified eight EEQs that comprise a hire-worthy learner profile. We believe all disciplines need to prepare learners for employability – not just those that are specifically workforce-related or pre-professional. 

In its tenure, QA Commons has:

Engaged 34 institutions

Evaluated 83 programs

Certified 17 programs

Impacted 83,000 students


Convened national leaders (funded by a USA Funds—now Strada—grant). Unanimously decide that new models focusing on career readiness are vital.


Research begins on bridging the gap between Higher Ed and the workplace. Awarded a Lumina Foundation grant.


Co-design EEQs & the EEQ Cert process with 27 programs from 14 institutions serving over 35,000 students.


Successfully conclude Pilot Program. Awarded Lumina Foundation continuation grant. Launch Kentucky EEQ Certification Initiative.


Launched a Faculty Employability Fellows program, enabling faculty to learn first-hand about local workforce needs, employer concerns, and the views of the role higher education needs to play.

Need access? Please email info@theqacommons.org


The Board of Directors oversees the organization, with a focus on mission, strategy and goals.

Mason Bishop



Mason Bishop
Mason Bishop
Michelle Deasy
Vice President of Operations
Michelle Deasy
Rebekah Hutton
Director of Product Development
Rebekah Hutton
Dorinda Byers
Senior Advisor
Dorinda Byers


QA Commons works with a cadre of experienced, professional educators to review Employability Self-Assessments and EEQ CERT portfolios. Click HERE to view our Independent Reviewers and their bios.

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