Career and academic counseling are becoming an increasingly important components of a tuition assistance program. Businesses need to hire workers with the right education and talents to close the skills gap. Workers need to prepare themselves for a workplace that is continually evolving and demanding new knowledge.
Neither of these is an easy task. There has been rapid change in both education and occupations.
The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce report Career Pathways: Five Ways to Connect College and Careers shows how both education and occupation opportunities have expanded:
• The number of occupations has grown from 270 in 1950 to 840 in 2010.
• The number of postsecondary programs of study has brown from 410 in 1985 to 2,260 in 2010.
• The numbers and types of postsecondary credentials have grown beyond degrees to include certificates, certifications, licenses and other microcredentials.
Current initiatives examine the relationship between education, worker employability and the skills gap. These initiatives are a clear example of how valuable career and academic counseling can be. The Five Ways report addresses how workforce development is important to businesses. Workforce development has three needs: “meeting workforce needs, avoiding skill gaps, and being flexible in the face of change brought on by globalization. Employer demand for talent has elevated the importance of workers with specific skills gained through postsecondary education and training.” With proper career and academic counseling workers’ can target their higher education to knowledge and skill development that helps businesses meet immediate and long-range employment needs.
The recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) report addresses the skills gap. Clearer Signals: Building an Employer-Led Job Registry for Talent Pipeline Management suggests that clear hiring requirements can help employers narrow the skills gap. This report suggests that a job registry will serve many businesses. It will be a service to give accurate job descriptions and analyses, along with required competencies and credentialing. Clear and transparent information will make it easier for businesses to find qualified workers.
Academic and career counseling as part of their education benefits helps businesses address this same need. Current employees can learn what jobs are most critically needed and what education, skills and credentials are needed. Employees can assess their education against the credentials their employers are demanding for positions, and then pursue the education they need to advance their careers.
Employers will find access to a larger talent pool when they offer career and academic counseling as part of their tuition assistance plans. By making their current employees aware of career opportunities and education requirements, job applicants can include current employees as well as new job prospects. When career counseling leads to the promotion of existing employees it reduces the time needed to fill positions, and reduces hiring and on-boarding costs. Career and academic counseling that makes employees aware of career opportunities and helps them focus their education on needed skills improves employee retention, filling the skills gap.
The USCCF says that, “the workplace is now evolving from one characterized by reasonably stable employment and gradually shifting skills requirements to one with shorter periods of employment and skills in constant flux.” Academic and career counseling as part of education benefits can address the issues of shifting job requirements and wide education opportunities.
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