IUPUI is one of 14 higher education institutions taking part in a pilot program designed to find ways to determine if schools are property preparing students for the workforce. The Essential Employability Qualities Pilot is part of an effort to develop standards for providing graduates with the qualities sought by employers.
The program is being led by The Quality Assurance Commons for Higher and Postsecondary Education. At IUPUI, the bachelor of arts programs in philanthropic studies in the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, along with the English and paralegal studies programs at the IU School of Liberal Arts are participating in the pilot.
The pilot is looking at ways to assess higher education institutions to see if they are intentionally doing the following:
- Develop essential employability qualities within students.
- Engage students and employers in quality assurance.
- Assure that graduates are prepared for the employment world after they complete their program.
- Communicate openly and accurately with the public.
IUPUI cites a 2015 Gallup-Purdue Index report which says 98 percent of chief academic officers rate their schools as "very or somewhat effective" at preparing students for employment, while only 11 percent of business leaders say graduating students "have the necessary skills and competencies."
"That gap is large enough to show there’s a serious issue about communication on what graduates should be able to do," said Bill Plater, senior scholar at The QA Commons and executive vice chancellor and dean of the faculties emeritus at IUPUI. "We’ve been talking to many employers, and almost every one of them has a set of expectations of what employees need to do to be successful. Employers are great at looking at the specific skill a person needs in the field of work, but what they don’t really know how to do well is assess things like critical thinking, communication skills and problem-solving."
The university says participants in the EEQ Pilot are looking to develop specific qualities in graduates, including:
- People skills such as collaboration, teamwork and cross-cultural experience.
- Problem-solving abilities such as inquiry, critical thinking and creativity.
- Professional strengths such as communication, work ethic and technological agility.
The pilot is being funded by a grant from the Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation.