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University Innovation Alliance gets grant to re-engineer college-to-career pathway

By David Schwartz
Published: March 12th, 2019

The University Innovation Alliance – a national coalition of public research universities committed to increasing the number and diversity of U.S. college graduates – has received a $2.4 grant from non-profit Strada Education Network to redesign the college-to-career pathway.

Purdue University, one of the alliance members, has already kicked off the initiative by drawing on the experience of career services staff, who are using design thinking methodologies to reimagine career readiness initiatives to help students find employment following graduation.

“A common objective among college career services professionals is to continually assess and improve our service delivery to students and to the employers that hire them,” said Timothy B. Luzader, executive director of career success at Purdue. “Applying a design thinking strategy in partnership with the University Innovation Alliance will further elevate our effectiveness in meeting students’ career development needs.”

“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,” said Bridget Burns, executive director of the University Innovation Alliance. “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.”

The initiative is based on an intensive analysis of students’ experiences with current career-related activities on seven UIA campuses: Arizona State, Georgia State, Ohio State, Oregon State, the University of California-Riverside, the University of Central Florida, and Purdue. By mapping processes and systems on each campus, career services teams specially convened for this project will identify where students are encountering roadblocks on the bridge from college to career. University leaders have committed to sharing common challenges and successful strategies to help students make a stronger transition from college to the world of work.  

“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,” said Carol D’Amico, executive vice president for 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.”

Recent research suggests that a graduate’s first job can have profound, long-term economic implications. According to a report from Strada Institute for the Future of Work, 43% of recent college graduates are underemployed in their first job out of college. Of those, more than half remain so after 10 years. By contrast, just one in 10 graduates who land a first job appropriate to their skill level slip into underemployment after five years.

In addition, a recent Strada-Gallup survey found that just 20% of students report receiving career advice from work-based sources. The UIA plans to help increase that percentage by engaging interested employers to co-create and scale new innovations that support students’ transition from higher education to the workplace.

“There is a long and rich history of career services and university relations professionals engaging one another in support of student transition from campus to the workplace,” Luzader said. “We’re confident that the work accomplished through this collaborative effort will build upon this foundation of success.”

Source: Purdue University News

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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