Colleges and universities realize they have much to learn from the world of work.

JFF CEO Maria Flynn in “Why Colleges Should Turn to Companies for Inspiration”

Published jun. 25, 2020

In a column published in Inside Higher Ed on June 25, JFF CEO Maria Flynn argues that colleges that are redesigning and reimagining their curricula to better prepare students for the ever-evolving world of work may find inspiration from an expected place: corporations.

She points out that many employers harbor doubts about the ability of colleges to produce graduates who are prepared to embark on careers and are therefore taking it upon themselves to offer employees ongoing training and education opportunities. Following that lead, some colleges have begun building the kinds of programs companies offer busy workers—flexible short-term courses focused on developing specific in-demand technical skills.

The need for a new approach to postsecondary education is especially urgent now, when colleges are expected to help Americans get back to work amid the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, she adds.

Flynn opens her column with the stark observation that “the stunning events of the last two months have injected immediate urgency for institutions to address the imperative of employability.” However, she concludes with a note of optimism, pointing out that as we “navigate a landscape that has been dramatically altered by COVID-19 . . . more colleges and universities realize they have much to learn from the world of work.”