One of those is North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, whose so-​​called “expe­ri­en­tial learning” approach requires under­grad­u­ates to work in real-​​world set­tings for as many as 18 months while in school. More than half go on to full-​​time jobs in those places, and more than 90 per­cent are employed or in grad­uate school within nine months of earning their degrees.

Nation­ally, only 42 per­cent of the Class of 2010, the most recent for which the figure is avail­able, had jobs at grad­u­a­tion, according to the National Asso­ci­a­tion of Col­leges and Employers. Fewer than two-​​thirds were employed six months later.

Northeastern’s focus on preparing its stu­dents for the work­place has driven a 46 per­cent increase in appli­ca­tions to the uni­ver­sity over the last five years.

The school is using spi­dering tech­nology to strate­gize an expan­sion from its base in Boston to other cities, such as Seattle and Char­lotte, N.C., where real-​​time “help wanted” list­ings reveal high demand for workers with cer­tain skills, but not enough supply, and where North­eastern has opened satel­lite cam­puses to lure lucra­tive, tuition-​​paying grad­uate stu­dents. More are planned.

We can see how met­ro­pol­itan regions com­pare in terms of the hiring that’s going on,” said Sean Gal­lagher, senior strate­gist and market-​​development officer at North­eastern. “Then we can dig down and see who are the top employers, so we can meet with those employers and find out what the skills are that they need.”

Like other schools, North­eastern pre­vi­ously used state and fed­eral gov­ern­ment labor data, “but a lot of those are fairly basic fore­casts on a really long time-​​scale,” Gal­lagher said. “The inflec­tion point, from my per­spec­tive, was the eco­nomic down­town in 2008. After that, you could see that these fore­casts were entirely out of date.”

Other higher-​​education insti­tu­tions still rely on such out­dated infor­ma­tion, how­ever, Gal­lagher said. “The way they operate—their ori­en­ta­tion, their culture—is just not to incor­po­rate labor-​​market infor­ma­tion in a rou­tine way.” But he said that will change, “espe­cially as more tech­nology like this becomes available.”

Read the article at The Hechinger Report →