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How to Prepare College Graduates to Succeed in a Tough Economy

Episode 39

December 15, 2020 37 minutes


Emsi Chief Innovation Officer, Rob Sentz, joins EAB’s Carla Hickman to talk about challenges facing today’s college graduates and to encourage schools to refocus degree offerings and learning modalities to better prepare their students for the new economy.

They discuss ways to help students acquire a stronger blend of hard and soft skills and then articulate their grasp of those skills to prospective employers. Carla and Rob also share the importance of building a strong foundation during the undergraduate years and then continuing to pick up skills and credentials that align with one’s interests and career goals.



0:00:11.7 Matt Pellish: From EAB, I’m Matt Pellish and this is Office Hours. I’m sure many of us have at some point encountered the term or acronym, ROI, return on investment. It’s been used in the business world forever, but in recent years, it’s become commonplace to hear it from parents, students when they talk about their college education, or you might hear the slightly modified ROE, return on education.

0:00:33.8 MP: On today’s episode, EAB’s Carla Hickman is joined by Chief Innovation Officer at Emsi, a labor market data giant here, Rob Sentz, to talk about how schools can refocus their approach to learning, to degree offerings, to better prepare students for the new economy. They’ll talk about helping students acquire a stronger blend of hard/soft skills, and then how to articulate the mastery of those skills to perspective employers in the hope of a good first job, good earnings, a good career, and ultimately a good life, or a solid ROE. Thanks for listening and welcome to Office Hours with EAB.


0:01:13.0 Carla Hickman: So how has the pandemic impacted the economy? And what has that meant across industries, across sectors, different parts of the country, and most importantly, what does it all mean for higher education? I’m Carla Hickman, Vice President of Research at EAB. And to help me answer those questions and probably many more, I am joined by Rob Sentz who is the Chief Innovation Officer at one of EAB’s partners, Emsi. So Rob, welcome. Thanks for being here.

0:01:39.5 Rob Sentz: Thanks for having me, Carla.

0:01:41.9 CH: So Rob, before we get into all of those questions about the economic impacts and what it means for higher ed, help our listeners understand a little bit more about who Emsi is and the great work you all do.

0:01:52.5 RS: Yeah. So Emsi’s about… We’re a 20-year-old company that’s focused on labor market data, labor market analytics, and our mission is to use data to connect people, education and work. We think the problem that many organizations have in the economy today is around this idea of value and relevance, and people are searching for economic prosperity for themselves, and the organizations on the front lines of doing that: Colleges, the public sector, and even people in HR; they’re all trying to help people find work and help people learn things that will help them find work and all that. So we’re using data to connect all those folks.

0:02:34.0 CH: And it’s been really helpful for us in our work at EAB when a university or college is trying to make sure their curriculum is relevant, that they are doing not only helping the student to be able to find a great career and a great job, but actually be a part of the story of the economic vibrancy in these cities and towns where they’re located. And that has been top of mind for folks as the pandemic has unfolded this year. I listened to you earlier this year describe our economy as frozen, so I wanted to start with, are we falling out? Can you give us the macro picture across the US of what does the economic outlook look like right now?

0:03:13.9 RS: Yeah. Yeah, it’s really weird. I’d say we’re still pretty frozen. We’re trying to… I think it tries to defrost and then it feels like we’re getting back into a little bit of a frozen period again. I suppose things really, truly thaw when we either decide that we’re done with the virus or the powers that be… Let the levers go. We’re not in a structural recession, it’s not like 2007 to 2010, it’s self-imposed.

0:03:52.9 CH: And I think interesting for certainly our partners in higher education is, how very different the answer to that question is depending on what region you’re located in or what industry we’re talking about. So I thought I could give you some of the industries or verticals that come up most, and give us sort of top line thoughts on what we see, and then we can get to what that then might mean for higher ed. But, big one here. So tell me a little bit about tech. And I’m gonna actually pull out before we say tech as a whole, cyber security, which is still one of the most popular fields we get asked about from higher ed partners.

0:04:29.1 RS: Yeah. Yeah, tech’s pretty healthy. I mean tech’s always healthy. It’s an area that obviously there’s a lot of demand. It’s got a steeper learning element to it, it’s got a higher cognitive aspect. And when we talk about tech, we’re really talking about the coding languages, the software development… Data analytics and analysis have really become a big part of it, and then certainly the IT systems and cyber security. I’d say cyber security is really part of those systems, and when we look at cyber security right now, the demand for it is about twice what the supply is, and the way that companies look for that cyber talent is usually through posting into other companies. So Company A doesn’t have enough people, so it posts into Company B, and we think that strategy doesn’t really work because all it really make you do is just have to pay more money. So what we talk a lot about with cyber security is how do you upscale and re-skill people who currently work for your company, specifically in IT roles and accounting roles, so they can work those jobs.

0:05:50.9 CH: So tell us a little… And I promise I’m gonna get to then, what do we do if we’re on the higher ed side, but let’s go to another big one, which is healthcare, which is also complex. What are we seeing in healthcare right now?

0:06:00.5 RS: Yeah. Yeah, healthcare has been weird, it, strangely enough, it actually declined quite a bit in the earlier part of the year, and that had everything to do with the fact that most hospitals and really a lot of healthcare providers were essentially shut down. It’s just a very odd thing to be doing. Again, in the beginning, a lot of nurses weren’t working. Now, I’d say people are allowed to go back. The ambulatory health care services have returned, but a lot of people still aren’t going back in for those things. People are avoiding the check-ups that they normally do. It’s been discussed a lot, like cancer patients have really scaled back on what they were doing. So it’s a weird sort of, there’s a lot of demand, and then there’s a lot of holdback at the same time. Oddly enough too, there’s been a lot of healthcare jobs that have gone remote. We’re doing a lot of remote jobs research, and telemedicine has really become big. I mean this is everything from even things like chiropractors and family practitioners, they’re really doing a lot more Zoom calls.

0:07:17.3 CH: It’s interesting because, start with sort of tech and healthcare, no surprise that universities and colleges ask about them first, they are often top of mind but what we’ve noticed in our research, when it comes to who can win in those markets from the higher ed side, in the tech field, it’s a little bit more winner-take all. So we have some folks who are conferring most of the degrees for those cyber security professionals because they were early to the market and they’ve got a really strong reputation and network. Most of those students are all flowing to them. You can contrast that with something like healthcare where the demands really spread out across the country, it’s not just in urban centers, and those were fine here, kinda winner takes some. They’re still dominant providers, but everybody can do pretty well.

0:08:02.0 RS: Yeah.

0:08:03.5 CH: What I thought was interesting when we last spoke, Rob, was people will go to tech and healthcare, but they’re overlooking some of the biggest opportunities, particularly right now, and those you told me were more business, sales, marketing. What’s going on in those fields? Management professions.

0:08:18.7 RS: Yeah, it’s a great observation. So again, I think if you are a young person or somebody who’s lost a job, your mind quickly goes to, “I gotta learn how to program,” or “I should become a nurse,” or something like that. Those are two jobs that are very visible and they’re definitely there, but yeah, when we think about the world of, I would say like technical work, so we say tech, but really, if you think about that higher category of all these technical jobs that are out there, the business side is actually bigger than tech. When I say the business side, if you think about a company, you have people who are making software and encoding and there’s the IT systems, but right next to all those folks, you have the salespeople, the marketing people, the operations people, and the finance people, and there’s actually more jobs in those four categories than there are on the tech area, the real hardcore technology. So sales, marketing, finance, and then all the operations, and sort of like people in systems management is just huge.

0:09:24.5 CH: We were looking this fall to see what was gonna happen to MBA programs, ’cause those general business degrees, it’s been a little bit of a rocky road, applications and enrollments have been down. It was actually one of the winners in fall 2020 when you looked across grad programs, so I don’t know if that message is getting out to students or it’s just one of those universal degrees that has a lot of potential career paths at the end. But I think you’re right, that’s also a great place for people who did find themselves displaced or out of a job, much easier for them to think about a new pathway in a business management profession than everyone becoming a coder overnight.

0:10:01.6 RS: Absolutely. Yeah, if you’ve been displaced out of hospitality, retail, sales, and we’ve written about this, sales is really from a skills point of view, there’s a lot more commonality and probably a lot shorter pathway versus if we think about, “Hey, I gotta go learn how to code,” or something like that.

0:10:24.6 CH: I love that you brought up skills. I think of Emsi as really a leader in this new conversation around the skills-based economy, what does it mean to actually confer skills? Sometimes I think higher education hears that and they think only about those technical skills that we just talked about. Tell us a little bit about some of Emsi’s work on skills and the broader definition you all are working through.

0:10:48.1 RS: Yeah, so skills, the reason we would use that word and go there from a data point of view is skill… The word skill really defines work. I mean when an employer lists a skill, it could be something like writing or PHP. They’re describing the work that needs to be done, and when we look at the work that needs to be done, there’s definitely a lot of these technical things there, but what we can’t ignore or gloss over, and I think this is really important for higher ed, and especially the more historic mission of higher education is that pretty much, if you look at job postings today, 100% of them list what we would refer to as a human skill. Human skill is often referred to as a soft skill or power skill, a core skill, a common skill. However you wanna do it, we like to say human skills. And that, that is those skills that you get in your formative years when you’re a little kid, all the way up until your core college experience where you’re learning things like rhetoric, writing, communication, how to be in a team, how to be that kind of person other people wanna be around.

0:12:03.4 RS: And then really, sort of that critical thinking and problem-solving aspect where those are intangibles. Like you don’t just learn critical thinking and problem solving when you’re taking coding, these are things you’re learning when you’re reading history and studying English and all those types of things. It’s really important. 100% of the job postings mention human skills, and in about 85% mention that core group of six where you have your communication, the management leadership, that critical thinking and problem solving. Every job.

0:12:34.9 CH: So what more can higher education institutions do to help students articulate… I’ll use the human skills language, to articulate what they’re learning and experiencing in the classroom through an internship when they’re across the table from that hiring manager? It feels like there’s a disconnect where students have a really hard time explaining the value of that traditional mission in liberal arts.

0:13:00.1 RS: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think we talked about this a little bit before, I think in previous conversations, but the liberal aspect of education, that older word, liberal, that idea of free, the free man, the free education, the one that creates the society, what is happening there is I think that’s gotten sort of soft. And that’s why I think we’ve said soft skills. We’ve thought of that, about that side of education is soft, not really angular, not really rigorous. And if we can get back to that idea of rigorousness, the angularity and we have a description, we have even out of your English or History where you’re learning something like really valuable communication, and then being able to, when you get into that interview with an employer being like, “Yeah, I’ve learned,” whether it’s digital marketing or healthcare profession, technology, to realize in that same exact moment, that employer also wants to know, “And by the way, I really invested heavily in my writing, and I gave a lot of presentations, and we did a lot of team work, and I loved working in teams, and I led a lot of teams when I was doing my undergrad.” That’s exactly what you need to say. And those professors, those people need to be able to prime that in the students, like, “You’re learning this because it translates in a special way.”

0:14:40.6 CH: I always think about one of my favorite practices we uncovered when we were doing some research on just why this is so hard, it was a simple exercise of having faculty members look at their syllabi, tell them to change absolutely nothing, but simply articulate at the top of the syllabus what those skills are in language that a student would understand and also that an employer might recognize. And what this institution found is, they didn’t need to change the experiences or the textbooks or the reading or the exercises, they just needed to spell it out and make it really clear to the students what those were, and then make sure that there was that career service step so that the student is actually communicating that effectively.

0:15:24.8 RS: Yep, yeah. It’s so important in those moments. A lot of students are like… Maybe even professors are like, “I’m gonna tell you what to think.” And what we have to do is step back and for the students to be like, “You need to learn how to think.” Right? And that’s, again, that translates to work in a way that’s harder to communicate, something like, “Oh, I know PHP.” Or, “I know how to quickly think.”

0:15:49.2 CH: Yeah. It feels to me like the half-life on the value of certain skills is getting shorter, and so we’ve talked about this constant need for re-skilling. Just think the point you’re making is that when we talk about that, it’s not just a technical skill like a programming language, it is also these human skills that we have to practice and get better at over time, and that probably is part of the narrative of how to make life-long learning actually make sense to a student. This is not a one and done, “I earned my degree, I’m good to go on those general competencies,” actually know to be a manager, to take on more responsibility to ascend in your chosen profession, you gotta keep practicing those things over time.

0:16:29.3 RS: Mm-hmm, that’s right.

0:16:31.7 CH: Kind of the classic engineer who goes to the MBA, because now they’ve got to manage a full team of engineers. New skill set.

0:16:41.6 RS: Yup. Yeah. That’s a great observation. A lot of people who go into technical jobs for the first year or two, or maybe more of their career, their second job is usually what? Managing other people, and that’s where they get out of their league a little bit, and that’s why they go back and get those MBAs ’cause they’re like “Uh-oh” on management.

0:17:04.0 CH: Exactly. Today, in the conversations Emsi’s having, I know that you all certainly work with colleges and universities, they’re asking you questions, “Where should we focus? What do we do first? How’s that sort of changed in the COVID economy? Where do you point people? Or really, is this just about a set of skills that we need to continue practicing regardless of what’s going on or at large?”

0:17:26.0 RS: Yeah. I suppose, it’s just grown a lot more intense around that idea of getting programs translated to a more skills-based approach. It’s speeding up that higher ed is an economy… I’m sorry, higher ed is a commodity idea, where people can really rely on learning online, and online learning is a lot more friendly to picking up skills that you need quickly in that micro-learning way, sort of like going to YouTube or another learning platform, picking up graphic design or SQL, more and more schools are racing toward that adult learner, the isolated learner, the distance learner who really only has an appetite for quicker, more just in time programs. So I think that’s where we are right now. So lockdowns and things like that have hastened that moment where it’s like, I just need to learn this, and I have limited time and limited resources, I can’t do eight hours a day, I can’t do six hours a day, that kind of thing…

0:18:37.0 CH: Yeah, we’ve talked about micro-credentials. To me, it’s now getting down to what can I learn in the hour that I have on my lunch break. Right? It is not just what can I do in six months instead of two years. So I do think higher education has to continue to push. Are you going to see those learning opportunities to the YouTubes and the LinkedIn learnings of the world? Or, is there a place where you can create that content calendar or content repository and also help the student build from that hour-long learning experience that’s super valuable into some of the more traditional credentials that we offer today?

0:19:15.9 RS: Mm-hmm.

0:19:16.5 CH: I think students are still really struggling with the concept of what those building blocks look like over time, so it feels like there’s a good education moment for universities there, just explaining what those pathways through learning might look like in the future.

0:19:30.9 RS: Yeah. And if that’s the case, what our approach has been… I think the most effective thing we’ve been able to do with a lot of schools right now is essentially to what we refer to as skillify their learning content. It goes back exactly to that, “Why in the world would I take this program?” And it doesn’t mean… Like you said, it doesn’t mean you have to blow up the core fundamentals of the program, it means that if that program is a little bit more skillified, you immediately give the student, “Here’s the translation, here are the key signals from this program into the market that you can put back into your resume, that you can use in a conversation,” it helps actually a person… Again, if we are seeing education become more of a commodity, it gives the person that thing they can go, “I can grab that and then push it back out and for value.”

0:20:24.7 CH: My hope too, I do speak with higher education leaders who love the data that Emsi provides, but they look at job postings employers write, and it leaves something to be desired. Job postings is an art. And so I hope that if we actually skillify the curriculum and higher education starts to define the human and technical skills, there’s a reciprocal nature to that, right, employers start writing better job postings ’cause we’re creating a shared language and shared understanding. So it’s not just reacting to what the workforce demands, it’s teaching the workforce where some of these disciplines should be going.

0:21:00.1 RS: Yeah. Yeah, I think the whole exercise is… If the Venn diagram of circles: People, education and work are all separated, and speaking sub optimally to each other, the more that we start to look at the other… Like if higher ed’s looking at the postings, or if the business world’s looking at the curriculum, the more that they look across at each other’s documents, so to speak, the more sort of a refining happens to get that language closer and closer. It’s messy in the beginning, but getting… It’s really that idea of speaking the same language.

0:21:39.7 CH: We started with industries, and the one that I didn’t ask you about is connected to our two-year college partners, which is some of the skilled trades. And so, if we look at what’s happening there, it feels like there’s a real demand for seasonal workers given the time of year, but what do you make of the fact that we see a lot of demand in those areas? And yet community colleges did not see the enrollments that we thought that they might see, talk about the relationship there.

0:22:06.1 RS: Yeah, the skill trades is fascinating right now. There definitely is a lot of demand. I’d say there’s four key areas that I think are hurting: It’s the front-line retail worker, and so that’s a lot of your Walmart or your grocery stores; it’s the logistics folks, so the warehouses and trucking people; and then construction, and manufacturing. And so those are all very much skilled trades, there’s a lot of entry-level positions there, and those areas are trying to hire and they’re having a very hard time doing it. We think there’s four reasons for it. First is a lot of people who’ve been furloughed, unlike the last time around in 2007, 2010, back then when people lost their job, they really believed that job’s gone, and so they went back out and looked. Right now, we have millions of people who believe that, “Oh, it’s gonna come back at some point.” We also have people being paid in that $10-$12 an hour range to not work with those government benefits. So that’s why staffing companies are just beside themselves right now trying to find people in those ranges.

0:23:23.7 RS: Also, people’s kids are home. If you’re a single parent or if you lost your job, it’s extremely hard to job search while you’ve got your kids at home ’cause, you know, K through 12. And then finally, people are afraid. I think that just keeps people out. So it’s a weird time for community colleges, and it does mean that a lot of them are not seeking… It’s not they’re not seeking that education, I think it’s a lot of the same reasons we see in the entry-level job market.

0:23:55.4 CH: Yeah, I think there was probably overly optimistic predictions in the May time frame that this would be the normal countercyclical relationship and students might forgo four-year, go to two-year. But I think you’re right, this is not business as usual. We’ve not experienced anything like this in a hundred years, so this is not just your classic recession. I do also wonder, for some of these individuals for whom 2020 didn’t feel like the right moment, how can we continue to emphasize the value of the skills that you can develop in a college pathway though, so that in fall 2021, people actually come back? I was alarmed by some of the early research coming out about individuals from lower-income households or middle-income households foregoing college, and it’s really tough to make sure we’ve got a good pathway for those individuals back in.

0:24:48.5 RS: Yup.

0:24:52.2 CH: So I think the big question, you touched on it a little bit there, but what of the COVID trends are you all thinking are here to stay? You mentioned remote work and distributed workforce, how does that change what employers will be seeking? How does that even change the opportunity for people to search for jobs where they may not need to relocate? I’m gonna ask you for the crystal ball, what are the COVID moments gonna stick around?

0:25:19.7 RS: Yeah, I think if we look at history, and certainly the situation we’re in it isn’t nearly as bad and dire as what we saw, like people make the comparisons to 1917 and 1918, and really that was a three-year period of time where people stayed away from life in a lot of ways. It took, I think, what? What was it, like the New York Yankees, it took three years for people to come back. And so I think my hope is that we would not be in a situation nearly that long, and I do feel like once we get past that moment, we’ll go back to life pretty quickly. Now, I think what’s happened though, is a lot of people have had this year to re-evaluate what they’ve been doing which I think will create longer term changes. The one that we’ve been observing is that a lot of people, especially young people, talent, like younger people in the workforce are like, “I don’t really need to be in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco or D.C.”

0:26:29.4 RS: I think we’ve seen rural places in mid-sized markets do very well, and I don’t know that that trend would swing. 2007 to 2010 forced so many people into places like Seattle and DC, and now what we’ve seen is almost the exact opposite where people are like, “I’m gonna move to Florida, and do an AirBnB, and find a place. I’m gonna do remote work,” or, “I’m gonna move to rural Texas or rural Washington State or Idaho, and I think… I can buy a house. I’ve got more space, I don’t have as much regulation around me.” So I think that that’s kind of an interesting thing.

0:27:17.1 CH: Yeah, I feel like you’re telling my personal life story, that’s… The words that we lived in New York City and then D.C. and has moved home to Chattanooga, Tennessee, mid-sized market, great cost of living. I’m fortunate I can work my job remotely, but many members of my team across EAB are having the same conversations. It could be good news for some of our colleges and universities too who are in those markets and have a new story to tell when it comes to, Why pick us? You don’t have to just be in an urban center for success after graduation.

0:27:51.6 RS: It changes the brain drain dilemma that a lot of communities have faced where rural communities have just really suffered, and if there’s any maybe silver lining is that some of those mid-sized markets… Mid-sized markets felt real bad in the wake of the Amazon HQ2 thing, right? They didn’t have a chance.

0:28:08.7 CH: Mm-hmm.

0:28:10.0 RS: But now all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, well, maybe we kinda do.”

0:28:16.3 CH: Agree, and I think it’ll be interesting to see again where that investment, what would the… Not the Amazon HQ2, but who comes next, where they have new opportunities in some of these regional markets that haven’t existed before.

0:28:31.2 RS: Yeah, yeah.

0:28:35.5 CH: So a last question here for you, Rob, but when you think about the students today who are enrolled, they’re gonna graduate in the spring, what do you do up your university and college to help best prepare them? We don’t know what the economy is necessarily gonna look like, but what helps them have a leg up given all the conditions and uncertainty that we’re still navigating through?

0:28:52.7 RS: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, uncertainty is sort of the word of the day, and I think for schools advising students, the advice is what it’s always been, focus on that strong foundation, and then pick up those really key technical skills. And if you’re somebody who orients more to communication and management, there’s a lot of good opportunities. If you’re somebody who likes the languages and math and the technology side of things, there’s a good opportunity there. So there really is opportunity for everybody, and I think it’s important to communicate that when it feels like things have been reduced. People always underestimate the amount of opportunity that’s actually out there. In a day like this, it’s probably easy to do that even more.

0:29:52.8 RS: I guess the lesson I think is that colleges are really in a tough spot, and I don’t think we’re in a rebuild the economy as much as we are in that unlock it issue, and schools are just very locked up right now. And so, I think if we stay like this for another year, I think schools start to adapt, and I think students start to adapt, and I think people start to adapt, kind of adapting to suboptimal conditions, but that’s not where we wanna stay, and I think that’s like we need to exist in suboptimal condition, but be thinking, “How do we help students think about it beyond that?” which after prolonged periods of time like this, it actually gets really hard to do. [chuckle] So I think it’s important for colleges to, stiff upper lip and keep… I think the biggest thing we can do is encourage each other, and especially with students who feel uncertainty, be by their side and be encouraging them. And again, keep sharing, “Here’s where you can actually do very well or you can add value, and here’s how this program, what we’re teaching you will make improvements.”

0:31:08.4 CH: I think for all the universities and colleges out there who’ve been taking a really hard look at their curriculum, a hard look at their programs, making some tough choices, I think the silver lining in that moment could be this opportunity to actually clearly articulate those skills, really rethink what you’re teaching and how you’re communicating that, get involved with the skills-based movement, don’t just let it happen, but get involved in shaping it. If that becomes one of the outcomes, I think folks focus on, Will we be all online? I would love if one of the outcomes was really just at the curriculum, had this clarity around what you’re learning and what that value is, and that more of our students had the right vocabulary that could explain that.

0:31:55.4 RS: Mm-hmm. And it goes back to something we’ve always tried to do with data in higher education. Again, it’s not a big revolution there, the first step is looking at what you’re currently offering and making those translations. And the second step is looking at where are opportunities for us to offer new or different things. And that’s always the same. Maybe that’s heightened. And I guess the challenge is, I know especially for community colleges that have a lot more of those hands-on skill trade-type jobs, there’s a huge amount of demand, but what’s their problem right now? They actually can’t… If you have a major manufacturer who says, “Hey, we need to hire 300 people and we’re willing to take people off your floor as you train them,” well, what’s the problem? Well, I can’t train 300 people right now because of all the rules. I can’t actually have… I can only have 20 students in at a time or something like that, so it’s a very big challenge, and again, I think if employers know that you’re challenging with that… You’re challenged by that and you’re working through it, you just have to talk to each other and work together. But it’s like evaluate what you currently do, look for opportunities for new things and then really get out there and be in close conversation with those that are struggling, whether it’s an employer or a person, and just block and tackle. Get ahead of it. [chuckle]

0:33:22.5 CH: Yeah, especially for our public institutions, they have always been front and center when we’ve had an economic moment like this, right? They’re gonna be essential to recovery, gonna be essential to getting people back to work. That hasn’t changed. The conditions have certainly changed, and we’ve got some extra complexity, but the role that colleges and universities need to play and re-building us, I think that that’s a story as old as time. And so that’s making sure that they’re still having those conversations.

0:33:48.3 RS: Yeah.

0:33:51.1 CH: So before we end today, Rob, anything else on the agenda for Emsi? Other sectors we didn’t touch on or other things that higher education leaders can look forward to from you all as we get into the new calendar year?

0:34:05.8 RS: Yeah, I think we’ve touched on them. I think the biggest thing, the big focus for us in the New Year is going to be helping people, so individuals, translate their skills for themselves, and then so they can translate that right back into an education institution and be able to better understand, “I need to learn. I need to learn a thing. I need to go pick up that cyber security skill.” So if somebody, for instance, somebody in accounting goes, “I feel like my accounting job’s getting a little shaky right now. I feel like I need to think about something new,” for that person to be like, “Oh, you know what? A lot of what I know right now translates to this other area.” So I think that’s a big step we wanna take to help match people to learning and then help people understand how they can take that learning and do that life learning learning approach. So again, a lot of that’s focused on the adult learner, but they’re the harder one to serve right now, because they’re the ones who have, “I’ve had three different jobs in the past five years, and I have no idea how these things relate. I have no idea how these might relate to how I can find new work.” So that, I think that’s the big thing we’re trying to figure out how to do and put together.

0:35:25.1 CH: I love that, put the individual back into that role where they’re not relying on the higher education institution or the employer or the job posting. It gets confusing. And I’ve been asking… I think universities and colleges have to take this moment to make that process a lot more intuitive, a lot more simplified. We could talk all day about transcript review and prior learning and all the other things that can stand in the way of an adult taking these lived experiences and actually translating that into something that has currency on the job market.

0:35:57.0 RS: Yup. I think and that’s why we look at things like the learning employment records, and it’s that same conversation in healthcare when you go to the doctor, when you go to a hospital, you wanna own that data, you wanna own the information about yourself so you can use it to maybe do things you can improve your own health with. This is the same idea, you wanna do things that you can improve your work with, you can improve your education with, and just be smarter about it.

0:36:26.0 CH: Well, I think that’s a great place to end with, and we’re excited to continue that conversation and continue to do this work and appreciate as always the chat today and the partnership EAB has with Emsi. Thank you so much for joining us, Rob.

0:36:38.7 RS: Yeah, likewise. Thank you so much, Carla.


0:36:47.7 MP: Thanks again for listening. Office Hours is gonna take a little bit of a holiday break but we’ll be back in the first week of January with a new episode featuring Richard Irwin, Executive Dean at the University of Memphis, to share some strategies to build and sustain effective corporate partnerships. We’ll also talk about his school’s collaboration with FedEx and a unique program that offers FedEx employees, even those without a high school diploma, an opportunity to earn a college degree. Until then, stay safe and warm, and we’ll talk to you in 2021.

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