Upskill: The Need for Colleges to Skillify Curricula for America’s Workforce

upskills for the workforce

Companies wrestle with labor shortages. Hiring signs dot the landscape. Yet, many job applicants do not have the skills to do the job. Besides that, many applicants are recent grads passed over by employers. Business leaders tell colleges they do not need degrees in their workforce. They need skilled workers. Here are reasons colleges can build skill-based curricula to help employees upskill.  


Partner With a Business for a Win-Win Workforce

Often, it is cheaper for employers to upskill their current workforce than to recruit and train new employees. Workforce development partnerships translate education to applied skills. Technical programs make sense to those students who need their investment to end in a job. Likewise, when a college invests in teaching the skills in need by local businesses, both partners win. Schools attract a new pool of students. Companies get a skilled workforce. Still, the best news is businesses needing skilled workers. Savvy colleges invest in long-term relationships with business partners. Likewise, the school keeps itself relevant and its classrooms full. 


Identify Workforce Skills in Course Descriptions for Upskilling 

Still, a difficult obstacle to a partnership is jargon. Each college and business have their own lingo. Colleges can take the first step by aligning educational jargon to business skills. Likewise, schools can rewrite course descriptions to identify how skills listed in job descriptions are fulfilled in the course. Talk to HR in their language. New skills are needed for businesses to remain profitable. New skills are needed for employers to remain relevant. Besides, workforce programs that target evergreen skill gaps can be marketed to many different business partners. 


Design Timely Upskill Courses  

Yet, reskilling a workforce takes time. Learning a new skill is not an easy task. Besides that, the new skill may take years or a few weeks. Again, work-relevant programs win. Adult learners especially want to know that what they are learning in the classroom they can use on the job. Let them know that they do not have to choose between a theory and a hands-on degree because they can have both. Offer fab labs, lunch and learns, e-learning, and other micro-skills builds during working hours. All will bring students into the classroom.


Mix and Match, As Needed

Likewise, unbundle the courses to promote the skills. Let employers mix and match courses within the curriculum to customize their workforce training. Also, ensure courses can be updated and moved to fulfill employer needs. Likewise, take the time to identify the skill-based offerings currently in the catalog. Yet, schools that split skills into different courses can offer more to students. Digital badges and micro-credentials show a willingness to upskill and let employers nudge their workforce toward new skills.  


Prepare Baby Steps to Upskill Workers and Students 

Still, reluctant students may need a starter course to try out a program to get them moving. Going back to school can be scary after many years in the same job. Therefore, the realization that the job is not there can motivate the workforce to reskill. Yet, more and more people are turning away from traditional degree programs due to cost and commitment.  


In sum, colleges need to invest in skillifying their course offerings. Besides that, schools will benefit by assessing what skills are already in their courses. Also, schools must translate educational jargon to business language. Then, students will know what jobs to apply for, and businesses will know that the student has the skill to do the job. Also, schools need to unbundle programs to reach different types of students. In addition, colleges benefit by partnering with businesses to create a program that provides businesses a trained workforce.

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