As colleges and universities seek to become more relevant to all their constituencies and engage them in lifelong relationships, the traditional “career center” is undergoing a major redesign. Key drivers of this organizational shift are the evolving needs and expectations of the “student consumer,” the dynamic realities of the job market and the demand by business for “skills-ready” employees. Several institutions have differentiated themselves by adapting their strategies and positioning themselves for leadership in this competitive space. Like most everything else in higher education today, the solutions are being developed one institution at a time. This report is a snapshot of the general trends coupled with specific examples of different approaches.

The Context for Change

In its 2022 “Jobs Landscape” report in 2019, the World Economic Forum (WEF), an international non-profit foundation for public-private cooperation, offered a provocative assessment of the future linked to four significant trends:

  1. Increasing need for lifelong learning in a non-linear world
  2. Evolving needs and expectations of the “student consumer”
    • “Younger generations entering higher education have a completely different point of departure than previous As digital natives, they have always had technology integrated into most aspects of their lives.”
    • “One-size-fits-all education will soon be a thing of the past and individual learning paths will arguably be less defined by traditional educational structures.”
  3. Emerging technologies and business models
    • “Fast-growing innovators in educational technologies and education industry outsiders are already challenging the status quo by structurally undermining the long-established business models of higher These new actors use technology and data to introduce new, alternative approaches that better deliver on the evolving expectations of learners…inexpensive, personalized, AI-driven…”
  4. Toward a “skills over degrees” model – “While the degree still rules, by and large, we are slowly moving towards a reality with more focus on acquiring skills not degrees…Research shows that education level is only weakly correlated with job performance and, in fact, more and more companies [Google, Apple, Ernst & Young UK, IBM] are actively shifting focus away from degrees to new ways of measuring employability as a consequence of the changing nature of work.”1

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