Colorado lacks a stable pipeline of qualified professionals entering the workforce. Unless we take steps to scale Colorado workforce to match innovation, our economic growth is in jeopardy.
From an efficiency standpoint, we must focus efforts on those industries with the greatest potential for fastest growth. As growth is often tied to innovation, organizations surrounding science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have obvious high potential for spurring more progress to Colorado’s economy.
In fact, 12 of the 14 key industry sectors, as defined by Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, require skills in the STEM disciplines. However, right now there’s just one college graduate for every three STEM-related jobs and seven graduates for each non-STEM job.
Many would point out the numerous K-12 initiatives focused on resolving the STEM challenge. Colorado has done an exceptional job of addressing the STEM challenge from the ground up, and with great efficacy.
However, the challenge must be resolved by equipping both current and future workforce to truly fulfill the needs of industry. Properly training Colorado’s entering workforce enables companies to meet staffing needs locally, rather than recruiting out of state. This provides even greater incentive for high-growth companies to locate in Colorado or open satellite offices here.
How can we equip the workforce with the skills necessary to fulfill industry needs? Better communication between the trainers and the companies utilizing the workforce. Higher education institutions must look to industry to illuminate the skills and experiences necessary for success in the STEM workforce.
Currently, higher-education institutions believe graduates leave school with 70 percent of the skills necessary to enter the workforce. However, industry is saying the number is closer to 50 percent. We must find better alignment on curriculum.
In California, Hands-On Learning has helped Kaiser team up with a leading university to better equip nursing graduates with precisely the right skills to fill Kaiser nursing positions. The result: better-trained graduates and a stronger pipeline of workforce for a business in need.
In Colorado, select business, higher education and public policy leaders are already huddling around this issue, addressing the economic ramifications of a workforce shortage in Colorado, and working together to open a dialogue and affect change.
By following these leaders, together we can keep Colorado’s economy at the top of the list.
Sen. Mike Johnston is a Democrat who represents northeast Denver. Reach him via email at Mike@mikejohnston.orgClick here for a printable copy.
Sixty-one percent of Americans believe that today’s workforce is plagued by a skills gap, but do not see themselves as part of the problem, according to new data released today. The Udemy Skills Gap Index, an independent survey commissioned by Udemy, the leading global marketplace for learning and teaching online, and conducted by ResearchNow, surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 65. The survey polled consumers to determine their thoughts, perceptions and attitudes toward not only the skills they believe they possess, but also how these skills impact their professional lives. The resulting data revealed that despite a perception among American workers that a skills gap exists, 95 percent consider themselves to be either qualified or overqualified for the positions that they personally hold.
Photo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140916/146619-INFO
The “skills gap” refers to a disparity between the skills Americans have and those employers are seeking. The revelation that most Americans do not believe the skills gap applies to them adds new dimension to ManpowerGroup’s recent “Talent Shortage Survey,” which indicated 40 percent of U.S. employers report difficulty in filling vacant positions with qualified employees. Additionally, despite California’s status as a global leader in technology and innovation, the survey also uncovers new insight into how workers in the tech capital of the world feel about their tech skills -or lack thereof.
The Udemy Skills Gap Index uncovered key findings into mindsets of American workers, including:
A Gender Disconnect – A measurable gender disconnect in perceptions of the skills gap exists, with 68 percent of men believing in its existence as compared to 55 percent of women.
The Role of Higher Ed – While almost half of Americans say their higher education helped them get their first job, more than a third believe they use less than 10 percent of what they learned in college in the workplace.
A Generation Gap – A majority of millennials (53 percent) feel that they have already mastered the skills their jobs require of them, as compared to 43 percent of baby boomers.
Job Seeker Motivation – Thirty-six percent of people seeking a new job report taking no extra action (such as taking an online course, attending networking events or visiting a recruiter) to boost their chances of getting hired.
“These findings indicate that despite a widespread recognition that the skills gap exists, American employees share an ‘It’s not me, it’s you” mentality,” said Dennis Yang, CEO of Udemy. “The data also shows that while higher education may be effective at helping individuals score their first job, skills and knowledge learned at academic institutions become obsolete as Americans change professions and skill-set requirements change. We’re beginning to see workers take ownership of their own skill-set development with particular emphasis on developing technology skills, but in today’s competitive economic climate, it’s simply not enough.”
The survey also reveals that California’s residents are insecure when it comes to confidence in their own technology skills, especially surprising given that California is the established technological hub of the country:
Nearly one in three Californians (32 percent) cite tech skills as their biggest on-the-job weakness.
A majority of Californians (59 percent) who lost out on a job or promotion identify lacking tech skills as their main problem.
Forty-five percent of Californians admit to lying about their experience and skillsets on resumes, LinkedIn profiles and in interviews.
“New technology is raising the bar for success in the workplace. A majority of survey respondents say they need new skills to do their jobs, most often new technical skills. In today’s rapidly changing environment, new skills are needed to get jobs, promotions and higher compensation.” said economist James Bessen of Boston University.
To download a complete set of survey results and an analysis of the findings, please visit http://press.udemy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Udemy-Skills-Gap-Report-09162014.pdf
Udemy is the leading marketplace for online learning, offering people everywhere the opportunity to advance their careers, change professions, develop their personal passions or simply learn something new.
There is a huge gap between industry and academia today. Learn more about the lay of the land and identify opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with giving our audience a bit of context about Hands-On Learning (HOL). What do you do? What major online education industry trends are you aligning with?
John Miller: I’m the Managing Partner and Chief Operating Officer of HOL. We’re a distance learning technology and consulting company that is focused on aligning education and private industry for effective workforce development, specifically in the STEM disciplines. In my role, I’m focusing on both sides of the fence, but we have an initiative that targets bringing industry and education together to focus on those STEM-related fields. We have about 14 years of experience working with universities and hundred thousand students. We have a pretty good perspective on education and what it takes to affect distance learning as a delivery vehicle.
Sramana Mitra: Who are your clients?
John Miller: From the HOL product solutions, we have a thousand universities today and a couple of hundred thousand students that are utilizing our solutions. In the area of the STEM initiative, we’re focusing on a dozen universities in North America building this unique relationship between the university and private industry. Historically, the relationship between those two entities has been limited in scope to grants and endowments. What we’re endeavoring to do is initiate a meaningful partnership between those two parties.
If you talk to the educational groups and look at their perspective on a graduating student, how much of the skill set required to enter the workforce do they really have? The answer you get is typically 70%. From the industry side, their perspective is closer to 50%. There’s a major gap and they both agree that there’s a gap.
I can only speak of one because we’re under non-disclosure agreements (NDA), and NDA with most but one has become public. That is a partnership between Cal State and Kaiser Permanente. Their focus is on educating their nursing community. We’re working with them to essentially identify where the gap lies and how can it be bridged, and taking their existing workforce and bringing them back to the educational process, so they can continue to grow through the career path of nursing.
Sramana Mitra: Where is the gap? What are you learning in this process?
John Miller: A lot of it is around competency-based education. One of the big areas that have been a challenge for education is providing the clinical experience of effectively bridging some of those skill gaps. Partnering these two groups together helps facilitate that but it goes a wide stream. We can identify a lot of different areas.
A case example is that the primary tool that a nurse uses in her role revolves around electronic medical record systems. I don’t know of any school that is actually conducting training with that primary tool. We do an assessment on both sides. On the education side, we look at their capabilities and the content and competencies they have relating to that. We can identify a number of gaps in that area. It’s all over the place but competency-based education seems to be the solution that is most viable here.
Sramana Mitra: Then what do you do to fill those gaps? Do you develop content modules to be delivered over the Internet around those skill gap areas?
John Miller: What we are in the process of doing with our clients is identifying the gaps and then, building a goal alignment. We go through a very detailed assessment on both sides. We try to identify what lines of business in their arena are changing, and what are the talent requirements that are going to be needed going forward.
One of the areas that we found in healthcare is that there’s a shift away from the hospital and the clinic, and moving into home healthcare as a direct fulfillment of this bubble that the baby boomers are bringing in. It was just unbelievable. Honestly, we’re going to need somewhere between three and five times the amount of skilled nursing in three to five years. We can see that this is forthcoming. Yet there wasn’t an initiative through education or between industry and education to really start to make that happen. In fact, we’ve found that a lot of universities were discouraging people going into nursing, because there isn’t a significant demand at the current moment when in fact, in a relatively short period of time, there’s going to be a huge need.
It’s really finding these issues and doing alignment. What are the skills? What are the talents that are going to be required?
Sramana Mitra: What you just mentioned is not just skill training. That is a question of communicating with the educational institution on what professions the career development office should guide the students towards.
John Miller:Yes, absolutely. As you go down this path, the missing link is education does not know the next generation or the next strategic move by a lot of these industries they serve. Through this process, we’re building a strategic alliance between industry and education so they can identify what are the skills and talent requirements going forward so education can impact that. All of the STEM challenge-related initiatives are really focused at K-12. We’re one of the very different, or at least one of the few, that are really focused on today’s workforce.
When we sit down and go through this with an industry, what we’re finding is that they have a huge number of existing employees who want to go back to school. Honestly, what we’re providing now is a new tool for education to engage that body of new students that’ll be coming back in. Kaiser is talking about 40,000 employees who’ll come back into that process.Click here for a printable version of the story.
Those math and science degrees pay off after college — humanities, not so much. A survey of the class of 2008, released by the National Center for Education Statistics, provides an interesting snapshot of the nation’s educated elite following a crushing economic recession. College grads from private four-year schools earned about the same as those from public four-year schools, about $50,000 a year. But while a paltry 16 percent of students took home degrees in science, technology, engineering or math — so-called STEM disciplines — those who did were paid significantly better. They averaged $65,000 a year compared with $49,500 for graduates with other degrees. The findings are based on a survey of 17,110 students in 2012, about four years after they received bachelor’s degrees. The survey found a strong correlation between earning money and highly specialized degrees. More than 95 percent of grads who studied computer and information sciences were employed full time during the survey and earned $72,600 on average. Engineering students reported similar job and salary prospects. Meanwhile, a humanities graduate was more likely to report working multiple jobs and earning a full-time salary averaging $43,100.
Click here for a printable version of the survey.
Click here for a printable version
Poor alignment of American businesses with the schools that train their workers is creating a “skills gap” that may make it hard to fill as many as 650,000 technical- and science-based jobs by 2018.
The country needs a shift in how industry and educational institutions relate to each other, economists and business executives say.
“We do not take an approach — either at the national level or state level – that creates an ease of communications between employers and educational institutions that are going to impart skills and background to potential employees,” said Joe Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor and faculty member of the school’s U.S. Competitiveness Project. “This is why we have 12 million to 13 million unemployed people and 650,000 job openings in manufacturing right now.”
Recent college graduates typically have only about half the skills they need in the workplace, according to John Miller, chief operating officer for Denver-based consulting firm Hands-On Learning.
This forces businesses struggling to find qualified employees — in areas such as computers, mathematics, architecture, engineering, management and health care — to educate workers in-house, which is costly.
“We really need to have universities run as businesses,” said Miller, whose company helps universities develop workforce programs. “It begins with the understanding that what they deliver to the market is a commodity: that’s a graduate.”
Since not all students can — or want to — go on to college, the American education system must provide alternatives.
Fuller, who is studying how the skills gap relates to boosting U.S. business competitiveness, estimates that 35 percent of people go to college today, compared with 5 percent in 1940.
“We’ve made a lot of progress, but the notion that 35 percent is going to 100 percent ever, let alone soon, is plain crazy,” said Fuller.
Most people will be trained for work that requires “middle skills” or “low skills” — jobs requiring more than a high school education but less than a four-year college degree, he said.
“I’m not saying we should be a nation of shopkeepers,” he said, adding there are areas besides advanced manufacturing jobs and computer scientists that need attention.
Fuller said many technical and professional schools are not nimble in upgrading curriculum to compete in the changing business world, and U.S. employers often lack effective workforce planning.
Fuller has studied how western European countries fill jobs.
Some of those countries track and test children from their early years to their teenage years, steering them into lifetime occupations for which they are deemed suited.
Fuller and Miller say such tracking would be alien to U.S. culture.
But Fuller says the educators must start talking to kids and their parents at a young age about what the children would like to do and coordinate that with business.
“What we can draw (from the European experience) is to have that dialogue early to allow families to think about what their kids are actually interested in doing and having an aptitude for,” Fuller said.
Fuller said a big issue is the lack of counseling for children and their families and mid-career counseling for people who are out of work.
“We under-invest in that capability in our school systems and in our departments of labor in different states,” he said.
Navin Dimond, CEO of Stonebridge Companies, an Englewood-based hotel manager, sees a problem with an education system that presumes all students will head to college after high school.
Dimond, who recently donated $1.5 million to Metropolitan State University of Denver’s hotel management program, said students should have a variety of educational opportunities from which to choose.
Some students may need only high school plus a few years of vocational or trade school. Others may want an apprenticeship during high school.
“I don’t think everyone wants the four-year education,” said Dimond, whose company owns and operates dozens of hotels in the U.S.
Hands-On’s Miller said the fortunes of business and universities might also be linked by developing programs for mid-career workers.
Rising costs are keeping many out of college, Miller said, and dwindling enrollment threatens the economic viability of some universities. To survive, he said, universities have to change how they operate.
Private industry, he said, could pick up some of the tab through partner programs that allow workers to advance their education while remaining employed.
“At the end of the day, industry is going to win, and it is going to lower the cost of operation if they do it effectively,” Miller said. ” The schools will then migrate to a new revenue model by working with industry.”
Op-Ed: Addressing the STEM Challenge Through Distance Learning
U.S. News & World Report – May 5, 2014
by Kevin Melendy
The United States, ranked 26th in STEM education, is in crisis to differentiate itself in the global economy – an economy in which innovation serves as the hallmark for success. Of great concern is the fact that while today’s educators believe their STEM graduates complete school with 70 percent of the employable skills they will need in the marketplace, employers have found this number to be closer to 50 percent. While statistics differ, both industry and higher education agree that there is a substantial gap that must be filled regarding our employable workforce.
The bulk of today’s STEM initiatives are aimed at resolving our nation’s STEM challenge by focusing on K-12 students, preparing future generations for successful career paths. However, there is a need to address this issue immediately, impacting today’s workforce, the “forgotten generation.” The two groups that can most rapidly effect change to the present STEM challenge in the workforce are university students as well as continuing-education professionals. While separate, both of these groups struggle with similar challenges — financial and time resources — requiring a solution that is accessible from both a monetary and a logistical perspective.
The solution for 2014 and beyond for best equipping the workforce is through online learning, not only eliminating restrictions on time and financial resources, but, when implemented properly, has been demonstrated to be just as effective as face-to-face instruction, if not more so.
Previously, the barrier for teaching STEM disciplines in an online environment was the inability of students to experience hands-on wet labs for the experimentation components of these courses. However, with the availability of wet labs delivered directly to students to supplement online courseware, this barrier no longer exists. Additionally, by eliminating the group format of face-to-face experiments, online STEM students, responsible for the entire experiment, walk away with a greater depth of knowledge.
Our healing economy isn’t translating into increased enrollment for higher education and institutions still battle for financial and personnel resources. These institutions must find new methods of generating revenue outside the traditional pathways. In addition, schools have very finite limitations on financial and physical resources to provide students. For example, a university’s nursing program may have the capacity to accept 50 face-to-face students, but have 2,500 applicants. By delivering the first two years of prerequisite STEM courses in an online setting, the university may expand the pool of students for acceptance thereby increasing tuition revenues without tying up personnel or facility resources.
To that end, online delivery of STEM courses also impacts global scalability by overcoming geographical barriers to face-to-face education, further benefiting U.S. higher education institutions.
Today’s STEM workforce, while critical, is still in need of continuing education to keep up with the latest developments within the STEM fields. By incorporating an online delivery for STEM courseware, higher education institutions are far better equipped to partner with STEM industry organizations looking to support continuing education for employees with as little disruption to productivity as possible. Online delivery of STEM courses for continuing education addresses the crises of current workforce competency gaps that exist at the present time and also make available an improved and continuous method of managing talent resources to keep up with global technology advances.
With the classic barriers for acceptance no longer at issue, online delivery of STEM courses have become a viable, and in some cases, preferable, solution to solving our nation’s STEM challenge.
Clark State Community College Find Students Perform Better with Online Science Classes
edcetera – February 10, 2014
by Sherrie Negrea
Last year, 7.1 million students at colleges and universities in the United States took at least one online course, according to a recent survey. But for students who enrolled in online science classes, how did they get their lab experience to complete the course?
At Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, students taking Introduction to Chemistry can conduct hands-on “wet lab” experiments in their own kitchens. Using chemistry kits produced by LabBridge Solutions, the students can create chemical reactions with solids and liquids poured into test tubes after learning the step-by-step instructions on a website.
The kits, which were upgraded in January, cost less than $300 and include the scientific equipment and materials needed to conduct 14 labs for the course. The LabBridge website also offers background material and illustrations for each experiment, instructions on how to conduct the labs, and an evaluation section where the students can apply what they’ve learned to real-world problems.
What’s surprising about these online science courses at Clarkson State Community College is that students who take the online version earn higher grades than those who take the equivalent course on campus. An analysis of grades in both formats of the course in Fall 2013 showed that 44 percent of those enrolled in the online version with LabBridge earned an A or B, compared to only 18 percent of those in the bricks-and-mortar course.
Fewer student also failed the online version of the course. Only 11 percent of the LabBridge students earned an F, while 21 percent of those taking the course on campus did so, according to Midge Hall, a professor of chemistry at the college.
Hall firmly believes students using LabBridge with an online course learn better than their counterparts who take the course on campus.
“If you observe students in a lab situation, they have lab partners and a lot of times, one person does all the work and the other person fetches,” Hall says. “One person is a pair of hands, and the other person is thinking and giving directions. When people are home doing it by themselves, they have to do all the thinking. It makes them interested and excited about it.”
What demonstrated the students’ interest in the online course were two students who asked Hall if they could complete two of the labs they missed after the course was over. The requirements in Hall’s course is for the students to complete 12 out of the 14 labs. “I’ve never had a student come to me and ask to make up a lab,” Hall says.
While Hall is convinced that online science classes are as good as those on campus, not all science professors share her view. At a recent meeting of science faculty in Ohio, many argued that online science courses were not an acceptable alternative.
“There’s a big hurdle there,” Hall says. “I think that introductory science courses are very appropriate online. The faculty in the sciences need to recognize this is a valid alternative.”