Who will Solve the Skills Gap: Employers, Colleges or Tech Giants?

With 7.4 m US jobs unfilled in mid 2019, it's no wonder employers are looking upstream for talent. JPMC CEO Jamie Dimon is telling the public, "forget degrees, we need skills." The fastest growing offering at community colleges are quickly becoming short-term "micro-pathways," with industry-driven certifications. Some employers are pushing colleges to offer these 6-18 month credential "stacks", like Google and Amazon, others are end-running the colleges altogether. As we begin to create micro-pathways based on high demand competencies, are we setting up a world where employers and colleges compete for learners to teach the hottest technical skills and students never get back to school to gain the higher order liberal arts degrees? While the labor market demands a more agile solution to supply talent for fast-growing jobs, learners need an education that is affordable, accessible, portable, and visible and that leads to meaningful economic opportunity. Some employers are building their own training programs and skills badging pathways, like IBM and Salesforce, while others, like automaker Tesla, fast food giant McDonalds, Google and Amazon, are turning to community colleges to deliver short-term, customized programs to train new workers and upskill current employees. Colleges are feeling the pressure. Traditional enrollment is declining. Is a third way possible? Might forward-leaning colleges, particularly community colleges, pave the way for how higher ed and employers can work together to solve the skills gap? In this panel, higher ed leaders and employers who are hungry for solutions will debate the best way forward.

Moderator: Kathleen deLaski

Panelists: Andrew Flagel, Rufus Glasper, John Farrar, Ryan O'Mahoney