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Workforce Readiness

Universities Collaborate to Close Gap Between College and Work

chalk drawing, closing the gap between a problem and a solution

The University Innovation Alliance (UIA), a coalition of 11 public research universities focused on increasing the number and diversity of college graduates in the United States, is embarking on a new project to improve career readiness for at-risk students. The work is funded by a $2.4 million grant from Strada Education Network.

"Career services are a natural evolution of focus for the student success movement. If we abandon low-income or first-generation students at graduation with a poorly designed handoff between college-to-career, we risk failing to deliver on the full promise of higher education," explained Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance, in a statement. "Strada Education Network understands that innovation starts with listening to, and understanding, the perspective of students. This project is about providing career services professionals with the capacity and time to redesign career readiness in order to better prepare students for an increasingly dynamic future of work."

According to a news announcement, the initiative will analyze students' current experiences with career-related activities at seven UIA institutions: Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Purdue University, the University of California, Riverside and the University of Central Florida. "By mapping processes and systems on each campus, teams specially convened for this project, led by career services professionals, will identify where students are encountering roadblocks on the bridge from college to career," the announcement said. "University leaders have committed to sharing common challenges and successful strategies for overcoming them to help students make a stronger transition from college to the world of work."

"Effectively serving today's students means being clear-eyed about the barriers that institutions — sometimes unknowingly — may be creating for students," said Oregon State University President Ed Ray. "This is about rethinking the way we help students prepare for and land the right first job after graduation. It reflects a belief that translating education into economic opportunity is absolutely central to our mission."

UIA's next step will be to work with employers to further support students' transition from higher education to the workplace.

"Education consumers are telling us, loud and clear, that they're looking for stronger connections between our nation's colleges and employers. They're asking for help making the case that their education is relevant," commented Carol D'Amico, executive vice president, National Engagement and Philanthropy at Strada Education Network. "The University Innovation Alliance is not only doing the hard work of mapping the real-world experiences of students, they're building trust among institutional leaders that are often afraid to share their challenges."

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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