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University Partners

Skills Gap: A Guide to Choosing a University Partner

​Are you having trouble finding qualified candidates to fill your job openings? You're not alone. In 2017, MetLife and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce surveyed 1,000 businesses and half of all respondents said they had trouble finding qualified applicants. Glassdoor also conducted a survey in 2017 that found three out of four hiring decision-makers said attracting qualified candidates is the No. 1 challenge they face.

What are these applicants missing? In a few cases they lack the actual qualifications for the position. But more often, it is the need for more polished and professional writing, communication or math skills. Other new hires lack the soft skills, the people skills that will make them a good fit for your company culture.

Whatever the training deficit, a university partner is often the most practical and immediate solution to the problem.

Marcus Matthews, senior associate director of the business development unit at Central Michigan University, feels business and academia make a perfect team. "Businesses team with us because they want to prepare employees to promote from within, increase the skills of new hires or offer their employees additional opportunities to branch out in new directions. It's a win for the business and the employee."

How to choose a university partner

They must meet your needs.

  1. They have regional accreditation.

    Regional accreditation agencies are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit degree-granting colleges and universities. This validates the quality of the institution and ensures credits or degrees earned by your employees will transfer to other accredited universities.

  2. They have staff dedicated to working with your business.

    Your business and culture are unique. You want a personal contact who will take the time to understand your needs and work with you.

  3. They offer a variety of degrees, certificates and seminars to meet long- and short-term training needs.

    Your employees will have different needs. Some may want to finish a bachelor's degree or learn new skills with a master's program. Others may need a shorter certificate program that they can complete in a year. Seminars can often address smaller organizationwide needs like a grammar refresher or email etiquette.

  4. There are no out-of-pocket costs to your organization.

They must meet your employees' needs.

  1. They offer tuition incentives.

    How much will it cost? That is one of the first questions every employee wants answered. If your university partner offers a tuition incentive for your employees it increases the likelihood that they will take advantage of the opportunity you are offering and gain the skills you need.

  2. There are alternate paths to credit.

    Many of your employees have valuable life and work experiences and training that should count toward degree credit. Certification-to-credit programs can save employees time and money.

  3. They offer a variety of formats designed for working adults.

    Your employees have work, family and community obligations that must be accommodated to allow them to finish any educational program. The ultimate flexibility and convenience is found online. Some schools also have satellite locations that have evening and weekend classroom programs.

  4. There are robust student services.

    Some of your employees will be returning to school after several years. Others will be encountering online courses for the first time. Many will need the services of a writing center, math center, and the opportunity for mentoring and one-to-one help. A library adept at home delivery of materials and with dedicated librarians for online students also is a must.

With the help of your university partner, you'll create a deeper pool of talent within your organization, attract motivated talent with your added educational opportunities and close those skill gaps within your workforce.