The report focuses on efforts in North Carolina, Minnesota, Ohio, and Washington to match postsecondary education with economic development. Those states, the report notes, have taken similar steps to tie universities and colleges with workforce needs. Most notably from our perspective is the second step: “Emphasize rigorous use of labor market data and other sources to define goals and priorities. Ask institutions of higher education to use data on global, state, and regional labor market needs to develop courses and degree programs that prepare students for high-paying, high-demand jobs.”
Here’s an example from the Minnesota State College and University System, an EMSI client:
Leaders in the Minnesota State College and University System recently visited 352 private-sector companies across the state to better understand their workforce needs. Three themes emerged when business leaders were asked about the skills employers seek in new employees. Business leaders spoke overwhelmingly of the need for (1) technology skills (e.g., robotics and automation, medical record keeping, managing financial systems, customer marketing and sales through e-commerce); (2) business-critical “soft” skills (e.g., customer relations, innovation, flexibility, adaptability, and teamwork); and (3) skills necessary for emerging business practices (e.g., using “green” products and responding to global competition). …
Minnesota policymakers also decided that colleges and universities needed easy-to-use labor market information in order to support decision making by chief academic officers and institutional research staff. The system purchased an online labor market planning tool, and trained staff at each institution to use it to inform decision making.
And here’s another from Washington State:
In Washington, postsecondary education officials and the state’s workforce board have conducted a biennial assessment of the match—or mismatch—between higher education and training credentials available on the one hand and the forecasted employer demand for skilled workers on the other. The most recent assessment identified an undersupply of mid-level workers prepared for jobs in science, technology, manufacturing and production, health occupations, and several other fields. The assessment found that the postsecondary system in the state will meet 88 percent of Washington’s labor market needs for bachelor’s degrees and just 67 percent of its needs for graduate level degrees.
And for more on college retention/completion and how EMSI can help, see this piece.
Illustration by Mark Beauchamp