As recent graduates enter the workforce, many employers are not as confident in the skills these new entrants bring with them.
Only 35 percent of employers report feeling confident that new recruits are well prepared with hard technical skills and “soft skills” such as complex problem-solving and analytical reasoning, according to a recent Bloomberg Next report.
“Business and academia are not collaborating as actively and effectively as they could be in preparing students for employment and reskilling individuals already in the workforce,” the report’s authors write.
As demand-driven learning — a new focus on developing workplace skills in undergraduate studies — starts to pick up steam, corporations are beginning to see the benefit in investing in higher education institutions to guarantee the future workforce will have more of the skills these companies seek.
Partnerships Offer Learning Pathways in Community College
One of the ways corporations are helping universities better equip students for the working world is by offering new areas of study. Google recently announced a partnership with 25 community colleges in order to offer students its IT Support Professional Certificate.
By partnering with Coursera, the tech giant is able to give students access to classes on everything from applied digital skills to IT security. Once graduates finish the course, they can share their certificate directly with one of the many corporate partners involved in the project, such as GE Digital.
Similarly, at Northern Virginia Community College, administrators have partnered with Amazon to give students a chance to learn about cloud computing as part of the information systems technology track.
“The Northern Virginia region is home to one of the largest concentrations of IT jobs in the nation, as well as one of the greatest demands for employees with cloud computing skills,” says Scott Ralls, the college’s president, in a press release. “This new cloud computing program is our latest initiative to meet the highly skilled employment needs of technology employers and to offer pathways to family-supporting careers for our students.”
Collaborations Offer Innovative Technology Education
While some companies look to offer certificate programs as a way to enable students to supplement their knowledge, other companies are collaborating to change the way institutions teach entirely.
A new collaboration between some of the top digital companies and universities, called Collaborative Leaders in Academia and Business (CoLAB), plans to drive efforts to increase the number of graduates with refined digital skills, develop cutting-edge technology and improve innovation in the capital region, from Baltimore to Richmond, Va.
The collaboration will take a two-pronged approach. First, it will use credentialing to teach students skills relevant to what partner corporations believe will be useful in the working world. Second, it will showcase the latest technological innovations, research and thought-leadership coming from these companies.
“Working together, we can prepare a new generation of workers and business leaders, as well as the technology that will create new industries,” University of Maryland President Wallace Loh tells UMD Right Now. “The power of this initiative can be seen in our many successful partnerships.”
Collaborators comprise many of the universities and large corporations in the region, including Georgetown University, American University, Johns Hopkins University, Capital One, Exelon, EY, and JPMorgan Chase.