Examines how institutions of higher education are working to align programs and policies with labor markets’ needs; provides a framework with a common language and insights for practitioners, policymakers, and researchers to develop policies and practices; and assesses what is known based on current LMA research and practices to provide guidance and chart future priorities through a set of recommendations.

“The broad framework proposed in this paper links a wide variety of existing LMA efforts and identifies the core elements that all LMA efforts share in common. These common traits allow stakeholders to conceptualize LMA broadly, providing a language for major components of the LMA process while also describing the significant variation that occurs in the complex and wide-ranging LMA process.

The proposed framework can provide a rubric for empirical researchers developing descriptions of LMA efforts, as well as allow policy stakeholders to build a richer understanding of LMA as it evolves across higher education. In this paper, [the authors] first propose a comprehensive definition of higher education LMA that analyses and synthesizes observations from the current literature. [The authors] then discuss alignment activities, including the areas of higher education where alignment occurs, the types of actions that promote alignment, and the actors that are involved in promoting alignment. Next, [the authors]examine possible ways alignment outcomes can be measured. Finally, in light of this framework, [the authors] provide recommendations for policymakers and practitioners and highlight areas where future investigation is most necessary to advance the field and inform practice.” (p.1)

“[The authors’] framework builds on many of the concepts outlined in the career pathways literature and expands the focus to a range of students and postsecondary institutions. It also includes a closer examination of engagement with employers and the labor market.” (p.2)

[The authors] also “propose a more comprehensive definition of LMA that can be applied to different types of institutions and to different levels of implementation: Higher education LMA includes activities and related outcomes with the goal of ensuring that higher education institutions graduate the correct numbers of graduates with the necessary skills for the job market in a way that supports students’ career goals and is consistent with institutional mission and economic conditions.” (p.3)

(Abstractor: Author)

Full publication title: A Framework for Higher Education Labor Market Alignment: Lessons and Future Directions in the Development of Jobs-Driven Strategies

Authors: Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Major Findings & Recommendations

In their approach, the authors identify strategies for higher education labor marker alignment as: • Career pathways and stackable credentials; • Sector strategies; • Employer engagement; • Work-based learning, such as apprenticeships, internships, and co-operative education; • Competency-based education; • Learning outcomes assessment; • Career, academic, and support services reform; • 21st Century skills; and • Some college-industry partnerships. Recommendations for policy and practice in order to improve current implementation and accountability efforts: • “Recognize the variety of LMA approaches and metrics for different institution types, levels of implementation, and stakeholder goals” (p.18). • “Recognize that LMA implementation and measurement is more of an art than a science“(p.18). • “Use multiple metrics to assess LMA policies” (p.19). • “Promote a dialogue across stakeholder groups to develop a clearer consensus regarding LMA goals, approaches, and metrics for different institution types and levels of implementation” (p.19). Recommendations for future research in order to guide policy and practice: • “Conduct comprehensive outcomes research tied to activities on both job vacancy and skills alignment” (p.20). • “Identify alignment approaches that balance well with other core higher education missions, particularly for liberal art institutions” (p.20). • “Identify approaches to integrate career preparation for all students” (p.20). • “Improve understanding of employer perspectives in engagement and hiring practices” (p.21). • “Evaluate and validate several sources of demand- and supply-side data for use in job vacancy and skills alignment” (p.21). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)