Giving Compass’ Take:
• Liberal arts schools are creating skills-mapping projects to help students understand how to prepare for the future workforce, and trends are pointing toward a “skills-based movement.”
• How are employers encouraging skills-mapping in college? What role can donors play in helping colleges and businesses set the same expectations?
• Read about a skill-based hiring process.
When Allison Cleveland-Roberts sought to make sure graduates at the University of South Florida were adequately prepared for today’s job market, she turned to an old resource, with a twist: help wanted ads.
Using data aggregated from actual job listings, Cleveland-Roberts was able to present faculty in the 22 mostly liberal arts-based departments she oversees with a list of the skills graduates needed to thrive in a variety of jobs.
Cleveland-Roberts’ exercise is a stark example of a trend on more campuses today: Overlaying a skills map — which details the knowledge or abilities an individual needs to successfully handle a job — on top of the requirements for a traditional college degree. This exercise not only ensures the curriculum prepares students for the workplace, but it also sends a signal to employers that graduates can handle various jobs.
Several trends are combining to push the skill-based movement at traditional schools, experts said. Employers are less inclined to train workers because recent graduates are seen as more likely to change jobs. And with U.S. student debt sitting at $1.6 trillion, students and their families are pushing colleges to give them something more than a degree in an often-broad major to prove their job qualifications. Schools, meanwhile, see this as a way to distinguish themselves from competitors and attract more students.
“The problem is, there’s no universal language for communicating these skills,” said Marni Baker Stein, provost and chief academic officer at Western Governors University. The many different definitions of skills and competencies can cause frustration all around, she added.
The challenge for schools is twofold: identify which skills are already present in existing curricula and change courses as needed to address missing information.
Read the full article about skills-mapping in college by Wayne D’Orio at Education Dive.
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