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Making Higher Ed-Business Partnerships Work for Students

Where university leaders and educators may see success with each graduate, the business world sometimes ends up on the receiving end of educational shortcomings. Surveys reveal that recent college graduates are entering the workforce without the technology training they need to succeed as professionals. To compound this problem, it's been estimated that most of the jobs that will exist in 2030 have yet to be invented.

As new categories of work emerge due to technology disruptions, higher education schools need to keep up with the solutions that prepare students for success in the workforce. Graduates lacking experience in such tools will be at a disadvantage against their more seasoned peers, who can enter confidently into a role and take command of its responsibilities.

Which begs the question: What kind of technology and skills will businesses value in the years ahead? Because the freelance economy is expected to encompass 43% of the U.S. workforce by 2020, graduates will, at the very least, need to know how to work remotely while collaborating with colleagues. Such fundamental technologies include those that enable video collaboration, enhanced by content sharing and live annotation. Beyond these systems, other technologies on the rise include augmented and virtual reality, advanced visualization, and simulation systems, each of which can provide safe environments for developing and honing technical skills. They will also be able to enhance important soft skills like critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution.



Within the higher education setting, apprenticeships and work-based degrees give students job-related experience. When they also provide students with the technology solutions they'll be expected to use in their jobs, universities and colleges align their outcomes with industry expectations of new hires. Those who prepare for their professional careers by learning the relevant technology tools will have an advantage over those who would need on-the-job training. Likewise, schools able to compete and win against their peers will provide these opportunities and narrow the gap between higher ed learning and professional skills.

Higher education institutions may acquire these solutions through public-private partnerships that identify areas where universities are coming up short in terms of preparing students for their career fields. Privately funded career-pathway programs and state and local government grants are available to finance the solutions that train students in areas that include health care, scientific research, architecture, and engineering. These education-business partnerships may also connect students with company sponsors who share their business experiences and knowledge. The collaboration technology that facilitates an ongoing mentor-apprentice relationship is the catalyst for nurturing and building the soft and technical skills that will serve graduates well throughout their professional careers.

There is a perception that the gap between higher education and the real world is growing, but the real gap is between colleges that can prepare students and those that can't. Learn what steps you can take now to help students succeed in the modern workplace.