3 Ways to Realign Higher Education With Today’s Workforce

There’s a stark misalignment between the talents employers demand and the skills graduates have as they enter the U.S. workforce. And many higher education leaders fail to see it.

While 96% of chief academic officers of colleges and universities believe that their institutions are very or somewhat effective at preparing students for the workforce, only 11% of business leaders strongly agree.

This misalignment has critical implications for businesses. Companies in major industries report that they are unable to grow and compete because they struggle to identify properly skilled talent: 49% report unfilled job openings, and 37% can’t take on a new project or major initiative.

It’s not just businesses that recognize the disconnect between what companies need and what graduates know. Only 35% of college students say they are prepared for a job, and over half of recent graduates are unemployed or underemployed.

Among the general public, just 16% of Americans think that a four-year degree prepares students for a well-paying job in today’s economy. And, in fact, a recent study by Gallup and Strada Education Network shows that 40% of bachelor’s degree holders would study a different major if they could do it over again.

Yet, while the value of a college degree has increasingly been called into question, college enrollment rates at public higher education institutions have fallen by less than 2% each year since 2013. Meanwhile, as of 2017, 44 million Americans carry $1.3 trillion in student loan debt.

In short, millions of students enroll in postsecondary education programs and, in some cases, take on considerable student loan debt without the guarantee that their investment will result in a viable career.

How, then, do we set students up for success so that they can complete…

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