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National University System launching workforce development arm

By David Schwartz
Published: April 9th, 2019

National University System (NUS) is launching a unit dedicated to workforce development with an initial focus on banking, health care, public safety, K-12 education and community college education.

The nonprofit operator owns four universities — National University, City University of Seattle, John F. Kennedy University and Northcentral University — and is working with industry partners to create a workforce and recruiting pipeline, educate workers, and incorporate industry training into NUS programs.

The new unit, called Workforce Education Solutions, is designed in part to make it easier and to reduce costs for workers who want to upskill or attain new degrees, said Chris Graham, the unit’s president. It will have a staff of about 20, largely focused on outreach to community and industry partners, Graham said. More subject areas will be added later, including cybersecurity within the next six months. 

Colleges and universities across the country are recognizing their role in workforce development in response to an acknowledged gap between the education students get in college and the skills needed in industry — a major impetus behind Workforce Education Solutions, Graham noted.

NUS’s initiative is part of an education industry trend — including four-year public colleges — that increasingly caters to the needs of employers and workers. In a September policy paper, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities said a growing number of large research institutions are tackling workforce development as part of their missions, which had been primarily the purview of community colleges and technical programs.

Recent examples include Purdue Global’s partnership with Papa John’s to cover tuition costs for the pizza chain’s 20,000 corporate employees. Arizona State University Online has similar partnerships with Starbucks, Uber and the NBA.

Graham predicts that colleges will set themselves apart by their ability to customize their offerings and build hiring pipelines to “show value” for employers. The Workforce Education Solutions unit is NUS’s bid to compete for those companies and “connect the dots” between its educational programs and employers’ needs.

Source: Education Dive

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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