Bridging the Gap between Academia & Industry for the Digital Economy
Early this year, Linkedin released a report highlighting The Most Promising Jobs of 2019. Here, they listed job roles such as Data Scientist, Product Manager and Scrum Master. Even for recent graduates, very few schools offer majors that directly correlate with the skills needed for these types of jobs.
Money Magazine stated that the fastest growing six-figure job in America is the Application Developer. The route to become an app developer can range from getting a computer science degree from a 4-year college, or completing a coding bootcamp, to even self-learning. John Seely Brown takes the stance that universities will have to shift from a model focused on dispersing knowledge to providing resources that equip students with valuable skills through mentorship and immersion projects.1
In the Deloitte article, the “significant mismatch between skills employers seek and those students possess upon graduation” is highlighted as an issue, especially given the excessively expensive cost of college. Students are paying large sums of money to not be properly trained for the job market, giving them an additional challenge of securing lucrative employment that will go towards paying off student debt.
In the same piece, Deloitte also acknowledges the growth of customized education. Although it is understood that people have different learning styles, very little has changed as far as education models. The lecture has still stood as the standard for education. The Center for Digital Education notes that combining in-person and self-paced online education is yielding better results, which helps to explain why coding bootcamps are being seen as a new model for effective education.
The change needed in higher education requires significant time and effort to revamp the existing system. Time that new graduates don’t have. They need to prepare for the job market that exists. There’s a number of organizations that have sought to support colleges and universities as they transform their curriculums, by introducing university coding bootcamps.
The Organizations Changing Education
Trilogy, a coding bootcamp, seeks to close the gap between academia and industry by providing ‘workforce acceleration’ programs in which technical courses are taught to college and university students. Trilogy offers cybersecurity, data analytics, UI/UX and web development programs full-time, part-time and online. Their workforce acceleration program is an incredible asset to universities because bringing in new majors and programs is a long and expensive process from finding the professors to building the curriculum. They’ve worked with universities such as University of Texas at Austin and University of Pennsylvania.
Serving as the liaison between coding bootcamps and universities, Opportunity Hub, an innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem platform, has ohub@campus, which offers a number of resources to colleges that train students in technology skills and entrepreneurship. Specifically, the coding academy creates a collaboration between the university and industry coding bootcamps to enhance colleges’ computer science programs or lack thereof.
On the Breaking Into Startups podcast, Dan Sommers of Trilogy notes the importance of leveraging a community and mentorship to be successful in coding bootcamps. Career Karma is an excellent example of building a digital community of individuals working towards a common goal. The aspect of ‘karma’ is senior people in tech giving back to the more junior ones in the form of mentorship. The core goal of Career Karma is driving success through a network of peers that hold each other accountable and also help their cohort members when they need it, in order to avoid slowing down the momentum of the study group.
Chegg, an online educational platform, is able to collect large amounts of data on colleges, students, majors, geography and career-tracks. Chegg strives to help college students get through their coursework to an internship and then into their career. Because of the data they are able to look at granularly, Chegg can identify the gaps in skills and assist students with acquiring those skills to get the job they want.
Even traditional jobs like economics, marketing and sales have changed because there is now a technical competency that is expected. For instance, an economist should know R or Python so they can analyze large data sets. Sales people should be able to confidently navigate Salesforce.com, and marketers should be familiar with SEO or Adobe. The job market is evolving faster than formal education, and the companies listed above are working to bridge the gap for students who are looking for jobs and for employers who are filling openings.
Future of Education
Post-secondary education is slowly changing. The students who will be successful are the ones who understand that the job market is becoming more and more skills based. In order to differentiate themselves, they should seek training in the skills needed not just for the job now but for the job in the next 5 to 10 years. This may require self-teaching, a coding bootcamp, a workforce acceleration program, or a combination of all three.
As education focuses less on knowledge and more on skills, curriculum will shift from the traditional testing methods to project based learning. It is not only important to possess the skill, but it is also imperative to be able to apply said skill to real-world problems.
With projects being more indicative of a students mastery of a subject, apprenticeships, internships and mentorship will be weighted more heavily when considering candidates. Thus, employers will be keen on comparing students’ skills rather than their resumes. Perhaps, coding bootcamps will adopt a similar ranking system as colleges have to correctly assess one student versus the other. The importance of having a project or programmer portfolio will increase as well, and it will not be surprising when more job interview processes start to include a technical competency test to validate said skills.
This is an exciting time for education. There is a lot of opportunity to grow and better equip students for industry. It will require collaboration among employers, educators and these new players who have found their niche filling the gaps in the education system. With everyone working toward the same goal, students will have a number of options available for them to successfully land a job in a the new digital job market.
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- Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown, A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change (Soulellis Design, 2011).