While colleges have continued to do a reasonably good job of preparing students with the cognitive skills they need to become successful professionals, employers have changed. Systems and processes that were once physical or manual are now digital and automated, and governed by sophisticated new business software or SaaS platforms that require dozens — if not hundreds — of hours of training in order to navigate them competently. To prepare students for a post-Covid future, colleges and universities need to double down on preparing them for digital jobs. But even teaching platform skills aren’t enough. Few employers are interested in hiring candidates who’ve just completed a training program, they’re looking for relevant work experience. The good news is that there are two promising models for colleges to go beyond the traditional career services function to provide students with relevant digital training and work experience.
But the emergence of new online marketplaces for work-integrated learning is making it possible for every college or university to offer students relevant work experience as capstone experiences in hundreds of courses. That’s what Arizona State University (ASU) has done with its marketplace for work-based learning, which utilizes the platform Riipen to allow students to tap into one million hours’ worth of experiential learning projects.