Will Higher Ed Win the Adult Upskilling Game?

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Becky Klein-Collins, Vice President of Impact at CAEL joined the podcast to discuss whether or not “college” is the most obvious opportunity for adults to upskill today, and whether or not it deserves to be.

Institutions have a really greatresource right at their finger tips, which is their federal relief dollars.They need to be thinking really strategically about how to use thosedollars from the Higher Education Emergency Really Fund, you're, listening to enrolment growthuniversity from he licks education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and Roman growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to an Roman GrowthUniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, I'm EricOlsen with heeles education and we're here today with Becky Klein CollinsVice President of impact at cal. Becky. Welcome to the show hi great to be herereally excited to have you here today and to talk with you about how preparedhigher Ed is to solve the adult up skilling challenge in front of us, butbefore we dig in, can you get the listeners a little bit of background onthe Council for adult and experiential learning Kale and your rule there surewell. CAL is a national non profit that works to improve education, to careerpathways for adult learners. What that means is we bring togetherorganizations that support adult learners and we provide them with thetools and solutions they need to effectively serve this population. Myrole there is, you know, doing research projects and writing about this workand engaging with people on the national stage so glad to be here withyou. Awesome Awesome, I'm so excited for what your background and yourresearch, how that will inform this conversation, because, as we lookthrough economic recovery trends and certain economic signals were seeingand certain employment signals that we thought we were seeing that aren'tshowing up, I think getting a little bit of a why or why not from youradvantage point will be super helpful,...

Beggi, proximately, half of allAmericans between the ages of twenty five to sixty four do not have a postsecondary credential help us understand what the current employmentopportunities look like for this group, so current is, is the problematic partof your question right. So there are a lot of moving parts to your question atthe very this very moment, right we're in the middle of the pandemic stillstill in the early days of our economic recovery. So we really don't have avery clear picture of what we're likely to see in the labor market for say thenext couple months or the remainder of this year. In fact, now, in the earlydays of the pandemic, we saw that people working jobs that could shift toremote work were more likely to have stability in their employment or ifthey did lose their jobs, they were the ones who could regain employment morequickly. So what we know is that those jobs tended to be held by people withcollege degrees, and so, as we started to look to the larger recovery, youwould think that we'd see opportunities start to open up for folks withoutdegrees. So we have restaurants. We have other hospitality. We've gotretail starting to open up a lot more, but it's still a pretty complicatedpicture. So one issue to keep in mind is this: Lastyear three million women left the workforce. That was huge and many womenhave not yet returned and they still can't return, and the reason is becausein this country, despite women's advances and education and careerachievements over the last few generations, women still take on thebulk of child care responsibilities. In many, if not most, households, and, asyou know, child care services are still not as available as they were prior tothe pandemic or they're inconsistently offered, and many schools are still notquite full time for children. So when there's no child care, it's hard to goback to work and that kind of...

...phenomenon is what really is makingthis particular recovery so unusual and so hard to understand. You know whatthe trends are and where we're headed, but, generally speaking, if we thinkabout how our economy is structured, where it's headed, what the growingindustries and occupations are. We can pretty much bet that the jobs that weregoing to see emerging in the future all the new jobs they are going to requirehigher levels of skills than in previous generations or prior to thepandemic, and this has been a trend for quite a while the last recovery. Youknow with the economic recovery relation to the great recession. Youknow that made it very clear and because, after you know, coming out ofthat great recession is new jobs were created, George Town Center forEducation in the work force. They estimated that ninety nine percent ofthose new jobs required at least some kind of college education. Now, obviously, it's not just anycollege course work that positions, people for good jobs, the real ticketto good jobs is a Po Secu, credential, that's valued by business and industryso buck as we have those three million women specifically that are over thenext year, hopefully looking to re, enter the market. Potentially theskills requirements for employers have have increased over this last year. Domost adults see college as the most obvious opportunity to up skill today,and or should they? You know, probably ten years ago, I would say that acollege degree was the most obvious opportunity that just about everyonewould say, workers should be pursuing in order to advance their careers, geta good job and so on, but I think we're in a slightly different place now andyet, even even now, I'm not sure that working adults who are need or needingup Skilling, I'm not sure that they are really aware of what other optionsbesides a college degree might be...

...available to them. I haven't mentionedis my organization: Cale is part of the strata education network. We're inaffiliate in that group and strata has been doing some great work this pastyear in tapping into the voice of the education consumer during the pandemic.Some really interesting stuff that they've been putting out last year inthe thick of the pandemic, so they surveyed adults without degrees, andwhat they learned was that forty four percent of this group, these adultswithout degrees, said that they don't have the right skills or credentials toget a good job or advance in their career and only like about a third saidthat they even had a good understanding of what skills they should bedeveloping. So they know they need more education and training, but they don'texactly know what that needs to be, and in general, I d say that there's amisperceptions there in a lot of circles that a four year degree is whatis required for employment in a growth industry or a well paying occupation orto get ahead in life right and adults, but out degrees may really think.That's the only way to access good jobs. But the truth is that there's no. Thereare many jobs that pay well and that have a good long term employmentoutlook and that don't require a bachelor's degree and I'm thinking ofparticular about jobs and industries like allied health care. It advanced,manufacturing industries like that at these jobs do require some additionalskills and competencies beyond a high school diploma and often they're goingto require some kind of formal short term credential, so something less thana four year degree. So job seekers do have different options to consider ifthey're looking to re skill or up skill in order to access new employmentopportunities. But the challenge is that it's currently really confusingfor people to understand. You know what are the jobs that promise long term,stable employment and what kind of training do I need forthose jobs and what kind of short term credential is going to really havevalue in the labor market and what...

...makes it even more challenging is thatthe skills needed in one regions, labor market might not be the case in adifferent region. So this is all very place based and it's important then sofor adults who wanting are wanting to re skill, they need to be asking reallygood questions about a training or credential program. So what occupationsis that program training for what's the Labor Market Outlook for that job in myregion? And what's the record of this particular program in terms of placingits graduates in those jobs and on the flip side of that institutions reallyneed to be prepared to answer those kinds of questions, and just one morething I would say you know, on top of all those kinds of questions you know,the adult learner is going to need to know. What's this program going to takein terms of time and money and in this pandemic you know: lower income workers,particularly lower income workers of color, have been hit the hardest whenit comes to up Skilling or re Skilling, they are going to want options that getthem to available jobs quickly and without you know, a really high stickerprice. So what I hear you saying is that one major benefit high red has. Isthis historical understanding that college is the pathway to career andlife success, and so, if adults are looking to us first, how do we makegood on that? What would a very, very serious and supportive focus on thisperspective, adult audience from Higher Ed, really look like yeah, so you knowCa. My Organization has worked with a lot of colleges, universities over theyears, who are wanting to make their programs better for adult learners andwe work with them on many different dimensions of making programs moreaccessible and targeted to adult learners needs. But what becomes clearvery quickly as we have these conversations with them? Is it it's notjust offering online courses or evening or Weekin courses? You know, that's notthat doesn't make an an adult learner...

...program. That's just not enough toserve adult students. Well, you really need to think about a shift across theentire institution and think about flexibility. Think about how to fitinto the busy and very full adult learners lives. I'll just mentioned afew things that you know, institutions need to think about. One isinstitutions need to think about being a more welcoming place for adultstudents. Adults really need to feel like they belong in college, and sosomeone who comes to your institution as an adult they are going to have someanxiety about returning to a learning environment. It may have been a while,since I've been in school they made, you know they may have been told atvarious times in their lives, that there aren't college material, and sothey they may really worry about that. So providing a place that they feellike they belong and see themselves in that place is really important, but the other thing is, you know tooffer flexibility. We talked before about the how the four year collegedegree may not be the best fit for every learner or for every. You know,job opportunity, that's out there and so becoming more flexible in the kindsof programs that are being offered and how they're being offered is reallygoing to be important. So accelerated and flexible learning models are key sothat they're designed for the working learner so that they're self paced alsoand its dusios often don't think about this, but they should be offered atmultiple start times during the academic year and not just you know,September and January. That's going to be really important to give. You know,learners, the flexibility they need in their own schedules, and you know wetalked a little bit about how it's all about. You know, thinking about theoccupations that are going to offer long term employ ability and stableemployment. So you know making sure your programs are really tied to whatthe needs are in the labor market in your labor market, adults obviouslypursue poseter education for many reasons, but most are really hoping forthat better job on the other end of it.

So they need to know that what they'relearning is relevant and it's going to prepare them for their targetoccupation, and you know another thing is thatinstitutions really need to value the learning that students are alreadybringing with them so meeting them where they are on that learning journey,and that means having policies that are going to recognize, transfer creditsfrom other institutions, so that they're, not wasting college creditsthat have already been earned, but also you know in adults, are bringing somesignificant learning from their work and life experiences so offeringmultiple ways to a word. Credit for prior learning also called priorlearning assessment. That's going to be really important and, finally, you knowrelated to the pandemic. You know think about the changes that an institutionmay have made already that have really benefited. Not just you know, I don'tlearn is but everybody during this pandemic. You know, for example,providing things like support services online. That was a real necessity foreverybody at some point when we needed to be at a physical distance from eachother. But why not continue those online supports in the future, becausethat could really be a big help for workers wanting to go back to school? Ilove the flexibility first focus that you outline it becky. Finally, any nextsteps advice, pristinis thinking about this challenge, wanting to make surethat their institutions offering for up skilling for degree completion stillfeels like not only the right choice but the best choice for them, and theywant to take this adult up Skilling Challenge and opportunity seriously.Where should they start first? Well, I'm going to sort of bring it back tothis pandemic question right. So in terms of immediate steps that could betaken, institutions have a really great resource right at their finger tips,which is their federal relief dollars, and they need to be thinking reallystrategically about how to use those dollars. This is from the HigherEducation Emergency Really Fund, that's...

...from the cares act and the Americanrescue plan, and they can use these dollars in some creative ways tosupport adult learners on their campuses, and so, let's think in termsof you with the relief dollars. There's one portion that they have to use fordirect emergency cash grants for students- and you know this money isintended not only for academic supports, but also for other things that cancause an O, don't learn her to drop out. So if you don't have food or housing orchild care, these emergency grants are going to really help those studentswith those issues and, as we discussed earlier, you know women have reallytaken on a lot of adult additional responsibilities during the pandemicand so providing them with these additional resources is really going tobe money well spent one thing just to clarify to is you know. Last week theUS Department of Education announced that this emergency funding doesn'tneed to be limited to students who are receiving title for funding H. It cango to anyone even to students who didn't fill out the FASSA, which isreally important for our institutions, to be aware of, because there are somestudents who have some real needs who maybe not be tied into the federalfinancial aid system and then there's the other part of the emergency reallyfund. The really fund from the federal government and that's the part, that'sfor institutional uses- and you know, there's some pretty tight restrictionson how this funding can be used. So it has to be pandemic related, but therecan't there's some language in there. That suggest it can be used to supportstudent retention related to the pandemic, so they creatively about whatelse might help the adult students that you know are maybe really strugglingbecause of the pandemic. What can really help them continue their studiesright now, so that could be additional advising support. It could be, you know,providing some self paced learning models that allow someone to fit schoolaround child care or work, some...

...additional tutoring resources and thenalso forgiveness of any institutional debts that students might have that's,definitely something that they could do so. Oh and also they could provideadditional emergency grants with that money. So if students have some, youknow really extraordinary needs in terms of food or housing or child carethat institutional portion can be used for those as well. So really right. Nowinstitutions have a unique opportunity to provide additional supports to adultlearners right now with these resources, and I would suggest that that would bea really great place to start. But you thank you so much for your time andyour expertise today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with youif they have any follow up questions sure well, they could contact methrough my email, at B, Klein at Kelda ork or contact cale directly at Cael atca yell at Org, and that would be probably the best way awesome. But youthanks so much for joining us today. You're welcome thanks for having meattracting today's new post. Traditional learners means adopting newenrolment strategies. helic educations data driven enterprise, wide approachto enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universitiesthrive in this new education, landscape and Helix has just published the secondedition of their enrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand newcontent on how institutions can solve today's most pressing and Roman growthchallenges download it today for free at Helos Education Com play book. You've been listening to enrolmentgrowth university from helic education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Iton or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time E T.

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