Tech jobs change at lightning speed. Here's how to keep your academic programs up to date.

It seems like new tech skills are either invented or revised on a daily basis.

Students who lack a critical "last mile" skill can struggle in the job market, despite being mostly qualified. Colleges and universities want their students to have up-to-date skill sets, but how can they keep up?

Here are three things higher ed can do,  Scott Rhodes writes for eCampus News:

1. Invite industry leaders to campus

A person working in the field can explain industry updates that might take years to appear in textbooks. For example, the College of Engineering at Oregon State University had students work alongside engineers at Puralytics to create a water filtration system. Students not only made a valuable contribution to the company's water purification efforts, but also gained practical experience in the latest engineering techniques.

How to tackle the soft skills gap

2. Create opportunities for undergrad research

Getting students involved in  research provides them with an opportunity for hands-on learning. Rhodes cites research showing that hands-on learning is 20% more effective than traditional instruction methods. It also helps them identify and observe the scientific method in action, by having a chance to interact with professionals already in the field.  Students at Florida Polytechnic University worked with an experienced researcher on a research project that could eventually make humans immune to galactic cosmic radiation, a hazard to humans traveling in outer space.

Learn more about running undergraduate research programs

3. Teach timeless skills

While some technical skills might become old news in a couple of years, soft skills are everlasting. Employers are also desperate for new hires who have both specialized knowledge in a technical field and soft skills like communication. "The best schools empower their students with a healthy balance of both," Rhodes writes (Rhodes, eCampus News, 6/13).

Top skills and jobs in demand for each state

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