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Entering the Ring as Higher Education and Employers Face Off

The crowd files into the classroom. As they take their seats, the contenders emerge and go to their respective corners. In this corner, the Association of Governing Boards (AGB) of Universities and Colleges. Their opponent, hiring managers and employers. The stakes are high for the audience of adult learners who have returned to college, balancing financial and family obligations with the potential benefits of degree completion.

The results of the AGB 2017 Trustee Index (PDF) indicated that only 22% of college trustees felt that preparing students for careers is the most important roles that higher education institutions should play. It came in third, after producing graduates who lead meaningful lives and preparing students to be engaged citizens. While 53% of respondents indicated that higher education is generally getting students ready for jobs, only a little over 1/3 (36%) indicated that they knew what employers were looking for in candidates.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2018 Job Outlook survey found that employers indicated that the key attributes that they wanted from college graduates were problem-solving skills and teamwork abilities, with written communication skills, leadership and a strong work ethic also seen as highly valued attributes. New to this year’s survey were two highly ranked attributes both of which spoke to internship experience, either at their organization or within the industry.

Similar surveys of employers and college students, conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU), have students consistently ranking themselves as prepared in areas where employers do not agree. Employers are very concerned by what they perceive to be a lack of preparedness in skills including applying knowledge and skills in real-world settings, critical thinking skills, and written and oral communication skills.

States also have a stake in this match. Mississippi has recently launched Complete to Compete, with an eye towards addressing all Mississippians who have some college but no degree by initially focusing on students that did not satisfy their degree requirements or owed money to college. The primary push behind this, and other state programs, is the desire to have educated people in their local communities providing the resources necessary to support long-term economic growth.

CAEL stands in the ring as the referee, advocating and innovating on behalf of all adult learners, in order to enhance their economic and educational opportunities. Working in tandem with higher education systems and workforce and economic development groups, CAEL provides customized solutions to meet the unique needs of everyone engaged in efforts to make the winner of this bout to be adult students.

To learn more about CAEL's customized solutions to support adult learners, click the link beow.

CAEL's Higher Education Services


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If your institution or organization is seeking guidance, solutions, or support from CAEL, or if you have an idea for a future collaboration initiative with us, please reach out. We'd love to connect.

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