Meanwhile, institutions spend millions on diversity, inclusion efforts
Few four-year universities are taking steps to develop skills-based education programs to prepare students for jobs, a new study by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning found.
The findings contrast with a recent series of College Fix analyses that found an increase in ideological education efforts – namely diversity, equity, and inclusion – at universities in recent years.
The skills education study, published last week, found that most colleges and universities, 86 percent, believe programs that build specific career skills are important, but only 22 percent said their institutions have competency-based frameworks in place throughout their programs that define and facilitate these skills.
“While this is a really hot topic when it comes to thinking about skills-based hiring, I’m not sure that higher education institutions are fully on board or prepared to be a part of that kind of ecosystem yet,” Becky Klein-Collins, vice president of research and impact at the council and a co-author of the report, told Inside Higher Ed.
Klein-Collins’ organization works to create partnerships between colleges and employers to prepare students for the workforce. She said the council has seen improvements in higher education in recent years, but a lot of work still needs to be done.
The research, based on responses from 144 colleges and universities, found that most schools, 85 percent, do communicate regularly with employers about the skills they are looking for in new employees.
However, it also found two-year colleges are doing better in skills preparation than four-year institutions.
According to the study, 73 percent of two-year institutions said they had skills-based initiatives in place for some or all of their programs, but only 61 percent of four-year colleges and universities said the same.
Other researchers have found similar problems. For example, a November poll from Go1, a learning and development content company, found almost half of workers say their college or university failed to prepare them for their current jobs.
In connection with the trend, a number of companies have dropped college degree requirements in recent years and started to prioritize applicants’ skills and experience instead, CBS News reported in December.
Meanwhile, many universities seem to be focusing much of their time and efforts on diversity, equity, and inclusion projects.
The University of Michigan, for example, now has more than 500 jobs dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion, with payroll costs exceeding $30 million, a College Fix analysis found.
Similarly, Ohio State University doubled the number of its diversity, equity, and inclusion staff in five years while its payroll costs almost tripled, according to another recent College Fix analysis.
Other examples include Harvard University, which employs 2,600 more administrators than undergraduates, including a number dedicated solely to DEI, and Stanford University where administrators nearly outnumber undergraduate students, The Fix found.
IMAGE: Zoran Orcik/Shutterstock