Tech companies go back to college, design their own courses for students
- Frustrated by both the skills gap and talent scarcity, Microsoft and other companies are designing their own college courses and degree programs, Wired reports. Eastern Washington University, for example, is now offering a bachelor's degree program in data analytics designed by Microsoft.
- Citing a Gallop poll, Wired says that 96% of academic heads believe that they're preparing students for work, yet only 11% of business leaders agreed. Companies, and the tech industry in particular, say colleges and universities aren't rolling out graduates with desired skills fast enough.
- Microsoft, Linux and other employers have teamed up with Harvard-MIT program edX, a MOOC provider. Microsoft also partnered with Accenture and Boeing to create the Internet of Learning Consortium to accelerate the preparation of job-ready employees.
There's a strong precedent for the types of partnerships that Microsoft and others have opted to form with universities; community colleges have been particularly adamant about joining local businesses to provide work-ready grads specific to various industries (be it municipal utilities or craft beer).
As effective as those efforts may be, it's clear that traditional job training alone won't be enough to combat the massive skills shortfall that's been projected by economists and researchers over the next decade, nor the rapidly changing nature of job requirements in today's workforce. That automation could take over a third of current U.S. jobs is a problem that draws gasps in both boardrooms and legislatures.
But organizations haven't been sitting on the sidelines. Indeed, several leading firms have pledged to support worker training and education with mentorship programs, apprenticeships and — most pertinent to Wired's report — e-learning. And that approach means allowing employees to learn on their own time, too, utilizing an on-demand approach that mirrors other services. The growth of video training modules has made those courses more digestible and accessible.
Companies aren't venturing too far into academia to close the skills gap. Instead, they're kick-starting the process of providing workers with the skills they need by designing their own curricula and collaborating with higher ed.
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