‘Not Yet Sold’ on online ed

Employers and community college students are skeptical about online education, according to a Public Agenda survey. Students say online courses require self-discipline and often are harder to pass.

Will employers value your online degree?

Employers see online degrees as the equivalent of traditional degrees only under certain conditions. 

College will evaluate ‘soft skills’

“Soft skills,” such as punctuality and teamwork, will be factored into grades and “work readiness” certificates at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College in North Carolina. Employers have complained that graduates have technical skills but lack knowledge of workplace norms.

That reminds me of yesterday’s post on a McKinsey report that found a mismatch between teachers’ estimation of their students’ skills and employers’ expectations. (No, that doesn’t mean teachers are “stupid,” as one comment writer insists. It means teachers  and employers aren’t communicating.)

McKinsey: Teachers overestimate students’ skills

Teachers overestimate their students’ employability, according to research conducted by McKinsey & Co. Graduates often are judged unready for the workforce by potential employers, leading to underemployment.

While teachers more or less understood which skills employers would value, they had overly rosy view of how well their students had mastered those skills pretty much across the board. In particular, educators think their students are significantly better at problem-solving and more computer literate than potential employers do, and that they have far more hands-on and theoretical training when they graduate from a post-secondary school.

Employers complained the most about job applicants’ “ability to take instruction, their work ethic, their problem-solving skills and . . . language proficiency.”

To fix student loans, make college unnecessary

To fix student loans, make college unnecessary, writes columnist Ed Quillen in the Denver Post.

Sending more people to college is no solution. Indeed, it would make the problem worse, for it would just drive costs up further while putting a glut of graduates on the market, thereby depressing their earnings.

Instead, we need to extend our civil-rights laws to forbid job discrimination based on educational credentials. Employers would be free to test potential employees to see if they had relevant skills and knowledge, but they could not ask for educational credentials.

If college was optional, prices would plummet, Quillen predicts. “People who wanted to study medieval French literature could still pursue degrees at schools populated by scholars seeking knowledge,” while job seekers would learn by reading, studying online, apprenticeship or whatever enabled them to pass the qualifying test.

After all, you don’t need a degree in English to ask, “Do you want fries with that?”

As learning goes online, it will increase the pressure to find ways for independent learners to prove what they know.

Employers see higher ed as costly, stodgy

The nation’s higher education system is costly, unaccountable and unwilling to change, say business leaders interviewed for a Public Agenda report.

For-profit colleges whose students are eligible for federal aid charge 75 percent more than for-profits that don’t participate in aid programs, a new study finds. That confirms a theory that increasing student aid leads to increases in tuition.

EEOC: Requiring diploma may violate disabilities act

Requiring job applicants to have a high school diploma may violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. From the Washington Times:

The “informal discussion letter” from the EEOC said an employer’s requirement of a high school diploma, long a standard criterion for screening potential employees, must be “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.”

Employers could run afoul of the ADA if their requirement of a high school diploma “‘screens out’ an individual who is unable to graduate because of a learning disability that meets the ADA’s definition of ‘disability,’” the EEOC explained.

While the letter doesn’t carry the force of law, employers can’t afford to ignore it, labor lawyers say. I doubt “help wanted” ads will say: “High school diploma required, unless you have a learning disability.” Perhaps they’ll be allowed to say “high school diploma preferred.”

Employers don’t like to hire dropouts — even those who’ve earned a GED — because they fear they’re unable to work within a system.

Some fear more high school students will drop out if they see employers no longer require a diploma for entry-level jobs.