Both educators and employers “are failing to meet the challenge” of equipping workers with skills to keep the economy competitive and fill needed positions, according to a report released Dec. 12 by Harvard Business School's Project on Managing the Future of Work and the American Association of Community Colleges.
While employers complain they can’t find the right talent, students come out of the community college system unable to find employment, according to a release announcing the findings. To bridge the skill gap and fill jobs, employers need to “more actively partner” with educators and be more forward about their hiring needs, according to a release announcing the findings.
The Project on Managing the Future of Work launched research that included interviews with community college leaders and business executives across the country, and then partnered with AACC to conduct a survey based on “the state and trajectory” of the partnership between employers and colleges.
The results may signal a disconnect between the two parties. Of educators surveyed, a vast majority gave employers a “B” grade or lower on their level of collaboration with community colleges, while 28% of employers gave themselves an “A” grade. While 84% of employers said they’d hired community college graduates, few have offered a guarantee, educators said, and close to half of employers surveyed said it was more cost-effective to hire from the open market rather than invest in employee training.
To fix this disconnect, Harvard Business School and AACC recommended that employers and educators more intently partner with one another and create curriculums more attuned to employer needs, including on-the-job learning. Employers can also establish a stronger recruiting relationship with educators, including increasing hiring commitments, the report said.
Work-based learning has indeed taken off as a way to foster a hiring pipeline, especially for younger talent, experts previously told HR Dive. It’s also been a potential source of more diverse hiring.
Learning partnerships between educator groups and private employers have also proliferated in the wake of the pandemic. But more work may need to be done to ensure collaboration continues into the decade.
"The current state of collaboration is failing to meet today's business needs and putting future competitiveness and prosperity at risk," Joe Fuller, co-chair of the Project on Managing the Future of Work, said in the media release. "'The Partnership Imperative' is a wake-up call for community college leaders and business executives to fix what's broken and ensure better outcomes for students.”