The pandemic catalyzed a new way of learning and an increased need for upskilled employees across a number of industries emerged. As a result, many high school graduates are pursuing nontraditional education pathways with 73% of high schoolers believing a direct path to a career is critical in considering postsecondary education. And adults, especially those working in more technical fields, are seeking continued education to gain the skills needed to advance their careers. Meanwhile, organizations find skills-based education valuable too, with many organizations reporting that professional certification increases confidence in the reliability, knowledge, and competence of its staff.
As students balance career opportunities and the demands of everyday life with learning, they need flexible programming that will give them skills relevant to their current or desired careers. And as they weigh the different education options that exist, non-traditional education options such as DeVry University, that offers skills-based learning, play an important role in empowering workforce readiness amongst all types of learners.
Previously, a traditional four-year higher education track was positioned as the only viable option for students looking to carve out a successful career path. To succeed in today’s economy, learners need to absorb future-ready and technical skills through continued education, which may not include a traditional four-year degree. Skills-based learning provides students with the opportunity to develop a strong academic foundation while providing real-world on-the-job experience.
Here are three reasons why acquired-skill learning is an important driver for career development and helps move the economy forward:
1) Higher education institutions should provide more flexibility for traditional and non-traditional learners to pursue a desired career path.
In a time when skill is being given the same credence as education in hiring practices, non-traditional learners have an opportunity to advance in their careers due to accessibility, where upward mobility may not have previously existed. Higher education institutions should work to support non-traditional learners by incorporating skills-based learning models that are adaptable based on industry and employer needs. Acquired-skill learning pathways empower students to refine and commoditize their skillset in parallel.
Apprenticeships represent one form of skills-based learning that encourages students to further their education without having to pursue a four-year degree. With National Apprenticeship Week celebrated this year from Nov. 14 to Nov. 20, these programs provide hands-on learning experience that education institutions can integrate into their academic framework to satisfy a student’s desire to learn while becoming proficient at a specific trade or skill in tandem. An example of this in real time is DeVry’s partnership with CompTIA which brings tech and IT apprenticeship opportunities to students from diverse backgrounds, while helping organizations recruit new talent to fill their staffing needs.
2) Skills-based learning increases employer and employee confidence in industries of high importance.
Acquired-skill learning opportunities are being offered across a variety of industries to satisfy a need to fulfill critical job roles in an increasingly technology-forward society. Industries such as engineering, cybersecurity and tech require employee skills to be as up-to-date as possible. Hands-on learning models provide learners with the training and abilities they need to be proficient in their respective industries.
“It’s paramount for higher education institutions to continue creating shorter, agile forms of education, and work closely with partners such as CompTIA, to provide hands-on learning experience while preparing learners to thrive in careers shaped by continuous technological change,” said Elise Awwad, DeVry University’s chief operating officer.
As job demand in industries of high importance persists, employers are sourcing employees with varying educational backgrounds to help fill open roles in their companies, according to a study from Harvard Business Review and Emsi Burning Glass, higher education institutions can act as a springboard for non-traditional students to obtain a skillset and join the workforce at a faster pace.
“Creating educational pathways that are sustainable and tailored to meet individual student needs is just one way DeVry is working to close the skills gap and stimulate the nation’s pool of talent,” added Shantanu Bose, Ph.D., DeVry University’s provost and chief academic officer.
3) Skills-based learning helps bridge the opportunity gap and increase diversity in the workforce.
As the country works to expand upon its training-based programs, the level of diversity within the workforce is increasing as a result. Competency-based learning tracks offer workforce solutions to help fill job roles while simultaneously creating greater accessibility for a more diverse group of learners to seek out continued education. Increased awareness around these opportunities drives continued growth and diversification of the workforce because these programs are open to all. Recent studies show that employers who prioritize diverse hiring in their companies saw greater financial gains and idea flow amongst employees. When students from various backgrounds are empowered and equipped with the resources they need to facilitate continued education, the needle moves forward on innovation and creativity in the workplace.
Skills-based programs comprise a vital part of the U.S. workforce and are a key contributor to the economy. Competency-based programming provides students with highly flexible alternative education pathways, making them accessible to all types of learners. An increased awareness and recognition of these career pathways also allows companies to hire from a diverse pool of talent, sparking innovation and creativity in the workforce. As skills-based education gains momentum, students of all kinds have the ability to chart a path towards professional success that’s tailored to meet their academic needs.