At its 10th annual conference, Coursera launched Career Academy, a new training academy for higher education institutions that prepares students for the jobs of tomorrow. Universities and colleges like Hawaii Pacific University, University of North Texas, the University of Arizona, North Central Texas College, and the Alamo Colleges District (a group of five San Antonio-area community colleges) piloted the training with students.
I asked Scott Shireman, who recently joined Coursera as global campus manager after decades at UC Berkeley and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, and Mark Rosenbaum, dean of the College of Business at Hawaii Pacific University, to discuss the new program and its purpose. to address some of the pressing issues facing higher education today.
Q: With the cost of student debt and the reported lack of job readiness among students, traditional degrees are under increased pressure to prove their worth in very practical terms. What is behind all this and what can universities do to solve this problem?
Scott: I have been in the higher education leadership for 20 years and truly believe in the value of what universities and colleges offer. Critical thinking, coaching and community – these are things that universities do exceptionally well. But they often lack a connection to industry, the rapidly changing skills landscape and employer demands.
Coursera can help you with this link. We have built strong industry partnerships, working with subject matter experts at leading companies like Google, IBM, Meta, Intuit and Salesforce to understand which roles and skills are in high demand. We’ve worked with hiring managers to understand what’s needed when companies hire college graduates in a competitive and changing job market. If you want to be a social media marketer, who better than Meta to teach you the skills you need to get the job? This is the foundation of Career Academy.
Universities need to give students a clear return on investment for their degree programs, and at the same time companies have tight recruiting pipelines and are desperate for talent right now. Cross-sectoral partnerships can solve both problems.
To mark: Hawaii Pacific University’s mission is to provide learners with a hands-on, innovative, and experiential education. Our students come from all over the world with one goal in mind: to find meaningful employment.
We believe that universities should give students practical training that goes beyond their time on campus. That’s what students are looking for these days. I see a natural fit between a liberal arts education, business education, and professional certificates from Coursera. They all work in tandem to ensure that Hawaii Pacific students not only find meaningful employment after graduation, but also that they have the management, communication and collaboration skills necessary to access leadership positions after securing entry-level jobs. Students don’t want to be underemployed when they graduate. They want to pursue a career with potential for upward mobility that also matches their interests and passions.
Q: What would you recommend to university and college leaders struggling to maintain student recruitment numbers in the current landscape?
Scott: Often, when universities consider recruiting students, they think about investing in sports facilities, lounges, and flashy dorms. Residential experience is still important, but I think students have become more pragmatic in their decision-making, especially since the pandemic, and so have their parents. They look at the curriculum and wonder, am I going to get a return on my investment? Will I find a job after I graduate?
In a 2020 Eduventures survey, students ranked career preparation as the third most important factor in choosing a college, after academic strength and affordability. Employability is something any university or college can invest in that will quickly make a difference in how students perceive their brand. We need more universities to think about how they can invest in skills development, professional training and job placement services. A university can become a more competitive and differentiated brand in its county, state, or region by actually placing students in jobs, whether those jobs are local or remote.
Students want in-demand, flexible, well-paying digital careers. Whether they’re 18 or 35, they want to know that the degree they’re paying for prepares them for what’s next.
To mark: Many of our students enjoy the weather and the beach on and around campus; Hawaii is a beautiful place. But the number one reason students choose Hawaii Pacific University is our focus on employability.
Our student body is made up of Native Hawaiian students, local students, students from the continental United States, and students from many international countries around the world, from Panama to Norway. For our international students, there is a concern that when they return to their home country, their employers will not know their name at Hawaii Pacific University. It’s not a famous school outside of Hawai’i, so it’s essential that we complement our education with training certified by globally recognized companies.
Our partnership with Coursera allows us to fulfill our mission even when workplace demands are changing at a rapid pace. Students earn certificates from the world’s largest companies, such as Google, Meta, Intuit, Salesforce and IBM. These marks are universal. Our students benefit from several signals in the labor market: their HPU degree and the certificates and vocational training they complete on Coursera along the way. It’s a great way to recruit and retain students at home and abroad.
Q: How does Coursera’s Career Academy, which offers job-specific certificates, professional training, and experiential learning, address the challenges faced by students and faculty?
Scott: Coursera’s Career Academy is a last mile professional training. It complements the academic program that universities already offer and do it very well. Career Academy enables any academic institution (or business or government) to give individuals, even those who have not graduated and those who have no prior work experience, the opportunity to learn the skills needed to enter in a highly demanded entry field. level work.
Students can explore in-demand careers including data analyst, UX designer, project manager, app developer, and social media marketer. They can look at the skills required and average salary for each role, find what excites them, then earn an entry-level professional certificate from industry leaders like Google, IBM, and Meta on top of their bachelor’s degree or diploma. ‘associated.
They also gain hands-on experience with real tools of the trade and complete projects that can set them apart in interviews and on the job. For example, a budding data analyst can practice SQL, Python, and Tableau, while UX designers can create projects using Figma and Adobe Creative Cloud. I think it motivates students when they’re able to make that kind of progress in the real world, when they’re able to take what they’ve learned and apply it with real tools.
To mark: Years ago, when we taught a course, the content didn’t really change from week to week, or even from year to year. Today, data science, cybersecurity, social media marketing, e-commerce, application development, all of these areas are evolving, should I say on a daily basis?
As Dean of the College of Business, I am assured that Career Academy students are learning the skills they desire that relate to current job openings. HPU business students learn cybersecurity from IBM, data analytics from Google, sales development from Salesforce, and accounting from Intuit. Student response has been overwhelmingly positive because students see a clear career path. This helps them improve their qualifications for in-demand and well-paying jobs.
Career Academy is a critical layer on top of our degree programs. In my university, the professors have high teaching loads. We are a teaching-focused institution, and every faculty member must be at the top of their game in terms of teaching content. What I find amazing is that Career Academy frees up my teachers to do what they do best: teach!
We see professors starting to rely on Career Academy certificates to turn the class upside down. Students apply the skills they learn in their certificate programs and with projects on Coursera. And the teachers think, I can also bring more of that into my class. I can make my class truly experiential. Students can work together on group projects, have class discussions about real business issues, go on field trips, and talk to local alumni and business leaders. In other words, Coursera’s Career Academy facilitates hands-on, innovative, and experiential educational experiences.