Sep 21, 2019

The rise of corporate colleges

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. colleges aren't producing enough graduates with the skills companies need. So corporations are partnering with community colleges and alternative credentialing programs to build worker pipelines.

Driving the news: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday that a cloud computing degree program developed with Amazon Web Services will be expanded to colleges statewide in Virginia, where the company has major data center operations.

The big picture: Higher education institutions are under increasing pressure to prove the market value of degrees and credentials — immediately and in the long-term.

  • Steven Partridge, Northern Virginia Community College's vice president for strategic partnerships and workforce innovation, says they and other institutions are trying to create "a spigot" of workers tuned to local markets.

What's happening: Tech companies in particular are helping design curriculums to ensure students graduate with the exact skills they need to walk directly into jobs.

  • In Phoenix, 10 community colleges are working with Intel, Boeing, Apple and Cisco to teach specific skills so students can immediately work in emerging fields such as autonomous driving and blockchain-related businesses.
  • IBM has partnered with 19 community colleges to review curriculums, provide in-class expertise and apprenticeships to prepare students for "new collar" jobs in areas like cloud computing, cybersecurity and mainframes. It also created "P-TECH," a 6-year program that offers a high school diploma and associates degree, in 200 schools.
  • Siemens is adding about a dozen new schools each year to its "mechatronics" certification programs to teach students skills needed for advanced manufacturing.
  • Facebook, Tableau and others are creating co-branded certificates with community colleges through startup Pathstream.
"It's not just about the technical aspects. People need the soft skills, like how to collaborate, work on teams to solve a problem and adapt to change. These are things community colleges are well equipped to do."
— Diane Gherson, IBM chief human resources officer

Alternative programs like those offered through coding bootcamp Lambda School are built around the skills Google, Amazon, Microsoft and others say they are seeking in employees.

  • Lambda School CEO Austen Allred says their programs can keep pace with technological changes in ways traditional higher education institutions can't.

By the numbers: There are 7.2 million open jobs in the U.S. and 6 million unemployed Americans, per the Labor Department.

  • The U.S. has more than 700,000 open technology jobs, but universities are producing only about one-tenth that number of computer science graduates.
  • 67% of the adult population does not have a bachelor's degree.
  • "We’re not doing a good job helping people understand what jobs are out there and what skills they need for that job," said Accenture North America CEO Jimmy Etheredge.

Yes, but: A bachelor's degree is still the gold standard for economic mobility today.

Go deeper:

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that there are 200, not 20, "P-TECH," programs that offer a high school diploma and associates degree.

Go deeper

Apprenticeship programs help workers re-skill

From left: Reggie Harden; Ryan Reed; Dolica Gopisetty. Photos: Accenture, IBM, AWS

Apprenticeship programs are no longer just for plumbers and electricians. They are an increasingly popular way to groom workers for technical roles.

Why it matters: A number of metro areas (and suburbs) are leveraging their community colleges to create a pipeline of workers in tandem with wooing companies to set up shop there. Apprenticeships are more frequently part of those efforts.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019

Deep Dive: Higher education's existential crisis

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo. Photos via Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

U.S. colleges and universities — historically cornerstones of society — are wrestling with a wave of rapid changes coming at the U.S.

The big picture: Higher education institutions — private, public, for-profit and not — are buckling in the face of demographic shifts, the arrival of automation, declining enrollment, political headwinds and faltering faith in the system.

What cities and companies have in common

Reproduced from Strada-Gallup Education Survey; Graphic: Axios Visuals

Cities and companies need the same thing: skilled workers.

Driving the news: The metro areas that are more likely to benefit from a skilled workforce have populations that are less inclined to get additional education, per the Strada-Gallup Education Consumer Survey.

Go deeperArrowSep 25, 2019