Using workforce data to improve student outcomes

Institutions can better serve students by using technology to evaluate skills development and its relevance to workforce needs

Ideally, students and advisors would know what skills the student has accumulated and the extent to which those skills match up with employer expectations—at any point in the student lifecycle. Gaining insight into shifting workforce dynamics and leveraging up-to-date workforce data earlier in the student lifecycle can help realign a student’s education path as industry needs evolve.

These changes, made possible by access to a comprehensive body of workforce data, have the potential to dramatically increase the value of an institution’s career advisory services and boost the placement rate, while also improving the student retention rate. By alleviating the crisis in confidence that students are experiencing about their job prospects, more students would finish a degree program. Tying coursework to a lucrative first job is a powerful motivator to stay in school.

Obtaining and using the data
Workforce data is available from a variety of sources, including local, state, and federal government agencies, think tanks, and online job boards. But it’s not easily accessible in a way that a college career advisor or student can use it to make informed decisions. Also, the data alone can’t assess whether a student has the requisite skills for a chosen profession.

This is where developments in data analysis and artificial intelligence come in. Workforce-analytics tools can aggregate data from multiple sources and use sophisticated algorithms and machine learning to provide a clear pathway for students to their desired future.

Institutions can better serve and prepare students when they can determine early and often whether the skills students are gaining through their academic programs directly relate to workforce needs.

Building confidence in educational outcomes
Institutions have always had the career building tools, aptitude assessments, and knowledgeable counselors to set students on the path to career success. Measuring acquired skills and education against the evolving demands of the marketplace at any time in the student lifecycle give institutions another opportunity to help their students make sound career decisions.

As technology advances, designing and aligning courses and programs based on more timely and accurate insight into the marketplace will soon be table stakes, in order for institutions to build their reputations, increase retention and ensure that graduating students are more competitive in the marketplace.

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