How to address the skills gap between higher ed and employers

Intensified by the pandemic and economic downturn, the higher ed and skills gap debate is missing critical technology-driven insights and cross-departmental collaboration discussion to begin to solve the issues confronting institutions.

Reviewing any higher education publication today, it is hard not to recognize and empathize with those working at colleges and universities, given all that is on institutional plates. Colleges continue to develop students holistically, while also preparing students for the needs of today’s employers and ever-changing economy amid an ongoing pandemic and declining enrollment.

However, for several years, the ongoing debate between higher ed institutions and employers within the marketplace has centered around the gap in skills and preparation of students entering the workforce. While one could argue that students entering pre-professional programs for medicine, law, nursing and engineering have long had significant conversations about the necessary and required skills for entering those fields, why have we not enacted this same level of scrutiny for any potential occupation and a program’s ability to provide the necessary skills desired by employers?

This debate only intensifies today as a result of the pandemic, the economic downturn and questions about the value of a college degree. While several potential causes contributing to this gap have been identified in conversations within higher education, two essential pieces are currently missing.

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