Addressing the Skills Gap with Alternative Higher Education Options

Last updated on: January 12, 2022

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Due to an expected global talent shortage of 38-40 million highly skilled workers by 2020, more employers are now considering candidates without four-year degrees, as long as they have the required skills. Learning House, a Wiley brand, and Future Workplace conducted a survey of employers in which most said they would consider applicants with certain certifications in lieu of a four-year degree, and nearly half said they would hire an applicant with a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) degree. In addition, the survey found majority of employers do not feel that recent college graduates are well prepared for the workplace, although the graduates themselves do.

In an interview on the WCET blog, Matt Hillman and Todd Zipper, Co-Presidents of Wiley University Services, discuss how the organization is bringing its combined technologies, resources, and expertise to help institutional and corporate partners in bridging the gap between education and employment and creating new opportunities and experiences in the changing education landscape.

New Opportunities to Bridge Skills Gaps

Hillman and Zipper note that while there is a chasm between graduates’ and employers’ perceptions of graduates’ proficiency, an increasing number of jobs in the U.S. still require a bachelor’s degree. Disparities in access to higher education as well as a lack of alignment between institutions and employers’ expectations about professional competencies point to a market for alternatives to traditional four-year degree programs, especially for non-traditional learners. At the same time, research indicates that the desire for traditional degrees remains strong. This suggests that institutions need to be able to provide a range of options for different needs—which Wiley/Learning House are poised to help them do.

According to the Learning House survey, most employers would like to train employees but don’t have the resources to do so. Collaboration between employers and institutions is a way to solve this problem. A strategy called “bridge education” can help connect employers and universities to fill skills gaps. This is especially important in industries where knowledge moves quickly, such as in technology. For example, Zipper notes an opportunity with short-term and part-time coding bootcamps to address a talent shortage among software developers.

Using Data to Make Informed Decisions

Data can also help schools identify opportunities and where they might need to make changes. While most universities don’t have the internal ability to gather and analyze data to make informed decisions, Wiley and Learning House can do so on a large scale, providing schools with market insights about not only their own programs but industry trends as well. Metrics provide an objective measurement to show partners areas of growth as well as areas of potential adjustment.

Developments in Higher Education

Hillman and Zipper see colleges and universities increasingly turning to technology to improve communication with students, providing them with easy and fast answers to their questions. Artificial intelligence and automation can also help free internal staff to focus on improving student experiences. In addition, these solutions can help lower the costs of education while also providing more personalized and individualized learning experiences.

To read the full interview with more details about Wiley’s acquisition of Learning House and how the company is equipped to meet new challenges and opportunities in higher education, read the full article on WCET’s website.

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