When deciding what courses they should be offering, colleges often use a simple process of subtraction . . .

The skills workers need

  • – minus the skills their college teaches
  • = equals the skills they should be teaching, but are not

That way of thinking makes sense, but it overlooks the fact that colleges don’t need to teach students every skill they will need to start or sustain their careers. Students can, and are, getting certificates, mini-degrees, taking courses online and finding other ways to add the skills they need to get and keep jobs.

And when colleges assume their job is to teach every skill that students need, they overlook the fact that companies train employees to do their jobs. Yes, companies train, and that solution was recently discussed at a conference that Arizona State University co-hosted with GSV Capital on April 18 in San Diego. In one panel discussion Ryan Carson, the CEO of Treehouse, said . . .

“The only way I can retain talent is to create it. Doing the thing that you’re going to do on the job is the best way to learn.”

To learn more about what happened at the conference, read “Ed Tech and Job Training,” an article that Paul Fain wrote for Inside Higher Ed on April 18th.

Colleges Don’t Need to Teach Everything

When you pause to think about it, it becomes clear that employers are uniquely positioned to provide their workers with exactly the kind of training they need, because those employers …

  • Are already using the equipment and systems that employees need to use.
  • Have pinpointed the skills that their employees need to do their jobs.
  • Are current with new technologies and skills, because their competitors are already using them.
  • Have employees who are motivated to learn and master the skills they need to perform and keep their jobs.
  • Are motivated to provide good training because they want to cultivate and retain capable workers.

Those realities could help explain why internships offer students learning experiences that not only lead to employment but fill in the learning gaps that colleges find it hard to address.

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