Wednesday, June 27, 2012

College degrees that will get you a job

Steven Greenhouse wrote an article for The New York Times earlier this year about how colleges have been rethinking their continuing education programs to help the many Americans unemployed as a result of the recession. One way they're tackling this is by tailoring degrees to match job opportunities.

It makes sense to us, because this is something Peirce College has been doing for a long time. In fact, Peirce was established on the foundation of offering a new kind of practical business education in the post-Civil War years, and we continue to add pertinent, career-related degrees to this day. Healthcare Administration, Health Information Administration, Human Resource Management, and Accounting are among our most recent degree additions.

Colleges and universities of all shapes and sizes play an important role in producing graduates that possess the skills employers really need. Unfortunately there seems to be a disconnect between the two. Greenhouse reports:

"Even though nearly 13 million Americans are still out of work, many employers complain that they cannot find the right people to fill myriad job openings -- for example, specialists in medical information technology or operators of computer-controlled manufacturing machinery. All told, the nation's employers have 3.4 million job openings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- a number of jobs that if filled could cut the unemployment rate, currently 8.3 percent, to around 6 percent."

This underscores the importance of adapting with the times to provide career-oriented degrees that are relevant to the current economy and closely aligned with employers' needs.

For students to be able to transform their lives and succeed in the workforce, they need a foundation of practical education that provides them with sought-after skills. Health Information Management and Information Technology are two specialized, growing fields that require such focused training and education.

But there is more to it than just providing the right career-related degree programs. As my colleague Uva Coles addressed previously, colleges also need to work closely with employers to find out what they're looking for and learn how we can best prepare graduates to fill those needs and succeed in the workplace.

As educators, we must commit to providing degree programs that offer career-based knowledge and skills so our students are armed with the expertise that employers are looking for. We also need to offer the support services that will propel our graduates directly into the workplace and set them up for success.