In employer-educator partnerships, don't overlook the learners

Universities and business are increasingly partnering to upskill and "right skill" today's talent. These collaborations are attractive to stakeholders because they can offer an avenue to a degree, a chance to realign skills with the demands of today's workplace and provide a source for continuous learning."Collaboration between schools and the workplace began to strengthen in the '80s, and it's stronger now than ever," according to Anthony Carnevale, research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Skill needs change, and if the change affects a significant number of workers, it will get passed back into the education system, he explained. In the last few decades, the rate of change has been rapid. In fact, skill needs are evolving faster than schools can keep up, according to Carnevale. This has resulted in employers working harder to influence the education system, he said.Historically, professional development programs existed in universities' professional schools, said Peter Hirst, senior associate dean for executive education at MIT Sloan School of Management, Office of Executive Education, via email. The last few years have seen these schools expand their professional development offerings, with specialized master's degrees or non-degree and certificate programming targeted for a specific profession or industry, he said. That trend has been fueled by online programs and new for-profit providers who have increased partnerships to develop and deliver programs.

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