Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that there are millions of unfilled vacancies in the U.S. even though active job seekers outnumber available positions. This phenomenon is often explained by the skills gap – students entering the workforce lacking the skills needed to succeed in a professional setting. Research from Deloitte and Pew Research corroborate these findings, and millions of jobs will likely go unfilled over the next few years.

There is, however, an additional layer of complexity to consider. Roughly 50% of fresh graduates leave their first job within two years, and high turnover cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. All told, the economic impact of the skills gap is significant and expected to cost the economy $1.2 trillion over the next decade.

How are employers and higher education institutions responding?

One survey found that nine out of 10 companies would hire someone who does not have a traditional four-year college degree if the individual has the requisite skills. They would even consider candidates with a certification, workshop experience, or a free online degree as long as they exhibited competency for the work required. However, an employer research study found that employers value college degrees only if industry-relevant material is taught to students.

To address this important issue and help future workers maintain relevance in today’s uncertain job market, University of Phoenix partnered with Emsi, a leader in labor market analysis, to advance skills-based learning at the college level and to improve course content relevancy based on industrial needs. University of Phoenix adopted the use of Emsi data very early in the program development process to stay ahead of the curve of skillification – a new higher education phenomenon that is transforming the tertiary education landscape.

Using advanced data analytics to understand supply, demand, and relevance for different skills in different industries and verticals, University of Phoenix and Emsi can bridge the gap between classroom learning and career readiness. Using insights extracted from this data, students become more acutely aware of what they know, what they need to know, and how to develop the skills needed to succeed in the workplace. Aided with expertise and counsel from practitioner faculty, student outcomes at University of Phoenix will more tightly correlate with career readiness.

This innovative use of real-world data is redefining the way the world approaches higher education. Armed with data regarding course content, skills learned, and workplace outcomes, students, families, teachers, instructional designers, and employers will be able to enjoy more transparency and see the value of college degrees and certificates.

The Leading Change course, part of the university’s MBA program, exemplified this approach. Data analysis indicated that business professionals need to know how to properly build and grow organizational cultures. However, the ability to assess the health of an organization’s culture is equally important. This real-world skill was mapped back to the course. Using this data, instructors designed assignments that required students to assess an organization’s culture, understand what drives performance, identify gaps and issues, and devise and deploy a strategic plan to implement important changes. In-class performance in courses such as these can be used by students to demonstrate to prospective employers that they can accomplish the core functions in a job.

Currently, two University of Phoenix programs, the Master of Business Administration program and the competency-based Master of Business Administration program, use labor market data to map in-class teaching to real-world careers. Other programs will be mapped later in 2021.

The innovative and insightful use of data is just one way that University of Phoenix helps students and alumni. Along with career services such as coaching and networking via the Career Services for Life™ commitment, data-backed mapping of classroom skills, learning opportunities, and career opportunities will further close the skills gap, improve student chances of landing jobs that interest them, and help students hit the ground running in their new placements – a win-win situation for students and employers alike.

Assess your interests and learn more about career options at www.phoenix.edu/career-services.html. Learn more about the university’s programs at http://www.phoenix.edu/programs/degree-programs.html, and choose a certification or learning format that will help you reach your goals. University of Phoenix offers associate through doctoral programs along with certificate programs, professional development courses, and individual courses to help you continue learning and progressing in your career.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is committed to helping working adults grow in their careers by empowering life-long learning and maintaining relevance in a constantly changing world. With flexible schedules, highly relevant courses, and interactive online classes, the university helps students reach career goals and personal aspirations while simultaneously balancing busy schedules. The university serves a highly diverse student population and offers degree programs at select locations across the U.S. as well as online. Learn more about us, the work we do, and how our programs can benefit you by visiting phoenix.edu.