Fiona Deller – Need to Read No. 4: An employer expectations gap, competency-based education is not PLAR…

This piece from Time came out in June 2012 (thanks to a colleague for bringing it to my attention), but it’s still on point so I wanted to share. It also contains one of the best lines I read this week: “Candidate must have previous experience operating a cotton candy machine.” The writer makes the worthy point that it is as much an employer expectations gap, as a skills gap. Employers increasingly want entry-level job applicants to have previous work experience in a relevant area and are unwilling to train the unskilled or pay higher wages to get more experience.

It doesn’t happen often but the Chronicle of Higher Education confuses competency-based education for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) and imagines the future of higher education as we know it to be at stake as a result. But the Chronicle redeems itself with the first in a series on the limitations of data collection on students in the US.

Kalamazoo College in Michigan is one of a few small liberal arts institutions in the US that publishes test results showing what students have accomplished in four years. Not surprising: Kalamazoo does very well on the metric of student improvement over time, and it can show this to prospective students and parents to good effect. This is exactly the right way to use learning outcomes assessment, to drive continuous improvement and to share this information with students.

Is it just my imagination, or is everyone suddenly talking about apprenticeships? Paul Solman makes some compelling arguments in favour of investment in apprenticeship for PBS News Hour.

Finally, two reports came out in the last few weeks that you might want to pay attention to. The first, from People for Education, takes the position that streaming in high school exacerbates inequalities in the pathway to PSE and disadvantages students who are already facing challenges.

The second, from Marc Frenette at Statistics Canada, does an excellent job of looking at the long-term labour market premiums of Canadian PSE graduates. Spoiler: university and college grads still earn more over time than high school grads; and men still do better than women. Read it anyway; it’s worth it.

Happy Reading.

-Fiona Deller, Executive Director, Policy & Partnerships

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