A new report on career pathways shares five ways to connect college and careers

In the past, a college education was enough to find a good-stable job but in today’s economy that is no longer the case. Many college graduates are struggling to find a job that allows them to become independent. 

Moreover, since 1980, tuition at public colleges and universities have grown 19 times faster than family incomes. Today, “going to college has become one of the biggest investments people make in their lives,” a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the
Workforce (Georgetown Center), has found. 

The report Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers, argues that postsecondary education needs to be more closely aligned to careers to better equip learners with the skills they need to succeed in the 21st-century economy.

“Increasing transparency around college and career outcomes for students is absolutely critical; better data is also indispensable to drive improvements on our campuses,” said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.

Today’s students have access to a wide variety of postsecondary credentials, providers, and online education platforms, but not all of them have measurable outcomes. The study points out that the lack of information drives the higher education market toward mediocrity.

“Higher education has become a $500 billion computer without an operating system,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center and the report’s lead author. “Learners and workers need a modern guidance system with clear and comprehensive consumer information that will help them make good college and career decisions.” 

According to the report, such a system will also help employers to identify and hire talented workers, and will allow colleges to update their programs to improve student outcomes. 

The study identifies how to better leverage integrated education and workforce data by developing publicly available information tools in the following five areas:

  1. Education Projections, Business Expansion, and Workforce Quality tools to help workforce leaders attract new employers and retain existing ones with data that demonstrates that the postsecondary education and training systems can provide workers with the needed skills.
  2. Program Alignment with Labor Market Demand tools to help college administrators, deans, and faculty members make program-related decisions that address labor market needs.
  3. Curriculum Alignment with Workforce Requirements tools to help faculty members create curricula aligned with the applied skills and abilities that learners will need to succeed in their careers.
  4. Counseling and Career Pathways tools to help advisors support students in their educational and career decisions.
  5. Job Placement and Skills Gap Analysis tools to help workers determine if and how the knowledge, skills, abilities, interests, and work values they possess are transferable to new jobs and also to provide connections to education and training options that can prepare them for a career change.

The study concludes that reducing the confusion around college and careers is the way to equip more individuals with the skills they need in the 21st-century economy and offer employers the skilled workforce they require.

For more information and access to the full report, go to the Georgetown University website