The global eco­nomic crisis of the last five years has con­cen­trated our col­lec­tive atten­tion, both here in the U.S. and around the world, on the need for jobs — as well as the need for strate­gies to sup­port mean­ingful eco­nomic growth. Clearly, higher edu­ca­tion has an impor­tant role to play here.

For example, a December 2012 study from McK­insey & Com­pany, “Edu­ca­tion to Employ­ment: Designing a System that Works,” warns us that there are 75 mil­lion unem­ployed youth glob­ally, and that we are facing a pro­jected global short­fall of 85 mil­lion middle– and high-​​skilled workers by 2020. Fur­ther­more, 39 per­cent of employers sur­veyed by McK­insey from around the world say that a lack of ade­quate skills among appli­cants is the reason entry-​​level posi­tions go unfilled. McKinsey’s report dis­tin­guishes between suc­cessful and unsuc­cessful efforts around the world at addressing the skills gap, and argues that suc­cess is achieved when “edu­ca­tion providers and employers actively step into one another’s worlds,” and when the “education-​​to-​​employment journey is treated as a continuum.”

While higher edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions and employers have long worked side by side to better pre­pare and develop skilled workers and strengthen lead­er­ship en route to sup­porting a stronger economy, the need for closer col­lab­o­ra­tion and tighter align­ment between these sec­tors has arguably never been more crit­ical – par­tic­u­larly if we aspire to create an expe­ri­ence that treats the journey from edu­ca­tion to employ­ment as a continuum.

Inas­much as North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, where I happen to work, is a leading expe­ri­en­tial learning insti­tu­tion and rec­og­nized for its sig­na­ture coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram — or “co-​​op” — which gives stu­dents the oppor­tu­nity to gain real-​​world, paid pro­fes­sional expe­ri­ence in the course of their studies, these are issues we think about a great deal.

 

Read the article at Inside Higher Ed →