Making a match

As part of its efforts to place students with employers, the Wasserman Center uses Symplicity’s Career Services Manager, a data-driven software solution that acts as a kind of match-maker, marrying the needs of employers to the skill sets of particular students.

“We are working to use technology—both cognitive analysis and predictive analysis—to identify what the jobs are and their underlying requirements,” explained Bill Gerety, CEO of Symplicity, whose products are in about 1,500 higher ed institutions. “We want to simplify a process for putting the right person and the right skills in the right job.”

To be effective, the system relies on data—lots of data—from both employers and schools. With student permission, schools can analyze student skills and goals against corresponding data from prospective employers.

“Students and employers are looking for a more customized experience,” said Steinfeld. “We’re not saying, ‘OK, this is the job for you,’ but we’re absolutely doing searches based on the skills and the job descriptions.” In response to a search, the system might spit out three students, for example, who would then receive a message alerting them about a potential job.

Steinfeld feels this kind of screening system gives NYU students a leg up by providing employers with an easy way to review qualified applicants. “We are very aggressive in finding employment for our graduates,” said Steinfeld. “Helping to make the process a little more personalized and putting our graduates in front of employers—we think that works really well.”

Not so fast

Unfortunately, in today’s constantly evolving marketplace—especially in fields such as computer programming—employers cannot always find qualified students. Based on conversations with hiring managers, noted Gerety, “positions are staying open longer and longer because they’re not finding applicants with the right skills to fill the positions.”

The problem isn’t that universities are failing to teach students. Rather, the skills students learn can become outdated by the time they graduate. “Industry’s turning so fast,” explained Gerety. “During the four to five years that a student has been studying programming or computer science in school, there have been one to two evolutionary transitions in industry.”

Not surprisingly, by the time a college senior starts looking for work, it’s too late for them to embark on a different path. Students can either hope that companies will give them the training they need or they can pursue these skills in online courses or another educational setting.

(Next page: Data to foster coursework changes for proactive action)

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