Bridging the Skills Gap
with Outcomes-Based Education

Bridging the Skills Gap
with Outcomes-Based Education

A 2016 research study from PayScale found that while 87% of recent college graduates felt prepared for their job, only 50% of employers agreed with them. In fact, only 8% of managers felt recent college graduates were extremely well-prepared for the workplace.

How could that be? We have students attending universities for four or more years, presumably majoring in a topic that directly relates to the type of job they get after college, and they’re unprepared?

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There are a number of contributing factors, as Kaplan, Inc., CEO Andy Rosen pointed out in his book, Change.edu:

  1. Universities are in the enrollment business, rather than the education business. So rather than focusing on learning, they’re focused on developing new ways to attract students. Campus improvements like climbing walls, dining halls, and athletic facilities get their attention and investment, while improving upon learning takes a back seat.
  2. Faculty are also not encouraged to improve learning outcomes. They are instead rewarded for domain research and receiving coverage in publications that will earn attention for the school.
  3. There’s an emphasis placed on possessing and demonstrating expertise, rather than transferring expertise and knowledge. This is troubling considering research shows that when experts train novices, they typically verbalize less than 30% of the knowledge and skills needed to accomplish the given task without errors.

The skills gap, it would seem, is actually a symptom. The root problem is a gap in understanding regarding the skills needed to perform a particular job; this gap exists between the universities providing the training and the employers doing the hiring. As technology continues to rapidly change the way we perform specific tasks, the skills required to complete those tasks evolves at the same rate. Open and frequent communication needs to be improved if we are ever going to address this issue at the university level.

Of course, none of this changes your needs as an employer. You still have work that needs to be done, so you likely find your company hiring less-than-ideal candidates. Rather than lamenting about the unpreparedness of your workforce, perhaps this is an opportunity to differentiate your organization with proper outcomes-based training that specifically and consistently prepares employees to do the work you need done, and evolves with the changing needs of your business.

Kaplan CLO Dr. Bror Saxberg is leading a charge internally to apply the principles of learning science and engineering to creating a more prepared workforce. With a team of learning engineers, Kaplan is working with employers to better understand the skills and knowledge their employees need…and help them develop and deliver scalable training programs to rapidly improve their speed to productivity.

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