5 policy gaps hindering higher education’s success

Policy analyst says it’s a policy gap, not a skills gap, keeping students from careers

gap-policy-skillsIs it really a skills gap that’s preventing college graduates from getting jobs, or is it a policy gap in how higher-ed institutions are governed and funded?

It’s the policy gap, says author of a new report, Mary Alice McCarthy, a senior policy analyst in the Education Policy Program at New America. According to McCarthy, colleges and universities are doing a good job of creating new career pathways and competency programs, as well as partnering with industry…they’re just not getting the right support.

“I explore the skills gap from a different perspective—as a gap between the policies governing higher education and the skill development needs of students, employers, and communities,” explains McCarthy.


In the report, McCarthy explains how the U.S. higher education system has become the largest provider of job training programs and what that means for students and institutions. She also delves into why current policies for delivering higher education do not work well for matching education and jobs.

Making her point, she identifies what she says are five policy gaps that are driving the poor results for students and employers.

“These policy gaps make it too easy for institutions to provide very low-quality career education programs while also making it too difficult for institutions to build the partnerships and programs that will facilitate student transitions to jobs and careers.”

(Next page: The 5 policy gaps in higher education; reframing the HEA)

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