The reality of how technology is changing higher ed

The competency marketplace will force colleges to reassess their pathways for student outcomes

Technology is bridging the gap between higher education and the labor market through changes in competency data, Ryan Craig writes for TechCrunch.

According to Craig, problems with data are the root of a long-standing disconnect between schools and employers. Faculty and students lack a way to translate discrete skills or competencies into data that could be used by companies, while hiring managers have to rely on anecdotal evidence about what students learned.

Now the so-called competency marketplace is making it easier for colleges and employers to communicate. Under the new competency marketplace, Craig explains, students will have a better sense of the credentials, courses, assessments, projects, or virtual internships that will help them break into specific professions or employers. 

Three myths about competency-based education: Separating fact from fiction

The student profile, which includes a student's resume, transcripts, badges, projects, and standardized test results, will allow employers greater insight into students' strengths. And, Craig predicts, as employers shift to a competency-based hiring model, traditional degrees will become a less important factor in job applications. Some colleges may even unbundle degrees as a result.

Craig explains four ways that competency data are changing the relationship between higher education and the workforce:

A clear picture of student learning

Online psychometric assessments, e-portfolios, and micro credentials are providing more comprehensive pictures of students beyond their degrees. As many institutions are shifting toward competency-based education models, they will be able to create transcripts that more accurately portray students' skills. 

Streamlined hiring processes

Those improved applicant profiles will feed into applicant tracking systems that hiring managers use when assembling candidate pools. With improved data, employers will be able to narrow down the pool of applicants faster and save money.

 A common language of competencies

Thanks to e-commerce sites and search engines, data scientists now have sophisticated new algorithms for analyzing and matching data points. The algorithms can pull competency lists from job descriptions and match them to the competencies listed in the new, richer applicant profiles.

Job descriptions that match the job

Finally, information on high performers in a certain role will feed back into the job description for that role, ensuring the two stay aligned. This feedback loop will also give employers a better understanding of what makes their top performers do so well (Craig, TechCrunch, 6/28). 

Related: How can a smartphone help make students more successful?


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