higher-ed reform

Experts say we’re approaching a third wave of higher-ed reform

An evolving workforce will demand lifelong learning, and higher-ed reform will have to mold postsecondary education to follow suit

As the global economy changes and demands more highly-skilled workers, some experts are tracking what they call a third wave of postsecondary education reform focused on making sure graduates have career-long alignment between their education and the job market.

The new report from Jobs for the Future (JFF) and Pearson notes that a career path won’t have a single-job trajectory, but instead will require a lifetime of learning. Higher education will have to experience significant reform to create graduates equipped for such a workforce, the report’s authors claim.

“As the future of work is realized, what makes us human is what will make us employable; education systems are already evolving to develop and measure the skills that matter, but there is much more that can be done,” says Maria Flynn, JFF’s president and chief executive officer.

Higher education’s first wave of reform focused on access, according to the report–helping more people enroll in higher-ed programs. The second wave addressed academic success and getting more students to cross the finish line and earn certificates and degrees.

This latest higher-ed reform wave focuses on what the report’s authors call “demand-driven education,” where programs will zero in on ensuring graduates are job-ready and have access to rewarding careers over the course of their lifetimes. This third wave of higher-ed reform will create an education system that adapts to the needs of learners and employers, and it responds to signals from society to ensure that desired job qualifications and available training align.

Laura Ascione

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