Leaders in Professional, Continuing and Online Education

Online: Trending Now

Unique biweekly insights and news review
from Ray Schroeder, Director of the National Council for Online Education

Jobs, Education and the Learner/Worker

Much is written about strengthening the link between education and employment. Jobs are changing and likely to continue to evolve over the coming decades. Education must evolve, too.

How do we make sense of all that is being written and said about the linkage between education and employment? Certainly, we are seeing effects of a shift toward increased value in education that is most relevant and responsive to employment. We can see that in the job market — in both salaries and position openings. We can see the linkage in competency-based learning initiatives springing up at colleges and universities, both large and small, across the country.

But where do these patterns point in the longer term?

I really appreciated the approach (and title) of an Indianapolis Recorder report, “Don’t Let Your Diploma Hit Its Expiration Date”; it succinctly sums up the situation. Long gone are the days that a diploma marked the end of necessary education. The learning in many, if not most, fields “expires” and becomes dated due to the advances in technology and changing needs of society. The job market is rapidly changing.

What are the highest-demand jobs that the Federal Reserve has identified? They include engineering, finance, sales, construction and manufacturing, and information technology.

The Fed publishes the Beige Book, more formally called the Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions, that comes out eight times a year, just prior to each regular Fed Reserve meeting. The September Beige Book summarized conditions as tight:

While construction workers, truck drivers, engineers, and other high-skill workers remained in short supply, a number of Districts also noted shortages of lower-skill workers at restaurants, retailers, and other types of firms. Employment grew modestly or moderately across most of the nation, though Dallas noted robust job growth, while three Districts reported little change that partly reflected a dearth of applicants. Six of the twelve Districts cited instances in which labor shortages were constraining sales or delaying projects. Wage growth was mostly characterized as modest or moderate, though a number of Districts cited steep wage hikes for construction workers. Some Districts indicated that businesses were increasingly using benefits — such as vacation time, flexible schedules, and bonuses — to attract and retain workers, as well as putting more resources into training.

Jobs in these fields are tight and, yet, employer requirements are tightening even further. No longer willing to accept the standard-issue college graduate, employers are increasingly looking to hire those persons with a relevant set of professional skills, including soft skills such as leadership and communication.

Half of the Fed districts note that (qualified) labor shortages were constraining or delaying projects. Also worth noting is that businesses in some districts were putting more resources into training. That’s a wake-up call for all of us in continuing, professional and online education. Why are employers increasing their training and not turning to us to coordinate and provide that training?

So what are we doing to change this situation of employers expanding their own professional development? This should trigger further outreach to business and industry regionally and beyond to see what we can do to meet the changing needs. We should recognize the 60-year-learner vision that Harvard’s Hunt Lambert, the University of Washington’s Rovy Branon and other leaders in our field have championed as an approach to meet the evolving needs in our field.

The Georgia Tech Commitment to a Lifetime Education recognizes the needs of the learner/workers are changing and will continue to change throughout their lifetimes; those institutions that recognize and adapt to these needs will thrive in the future.

This article was first posted November 28th in Inside Higher Ed’s Inside Digital Learning. 

Ray Schroeder 2016 Summit for Online Leadership

Ray Schroeder is Professor Emeritus, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and Senior Fellow at UPCEA. Each year, Ray publishes and presents nationally on emerging topics in online and technology-enhanced learning. Ray’s social media publications daily reach more than 12,000 professionals. He is the inaugural recipient of the A. Frank Mayadas Online Leadership Award, recipient of the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award, the United States Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame Award, and the American Journal of Distance Education/University of Wisconsin Wedemeyer Excellence in Distance Education Award 2016.

Other UPCEA Updates + Blogs

Smart Cities and Transportation, and the Impact on Higher Education

Despite the increase in distracted drivers, the number of accidents has declined. While a number of factors may be at play, better technology and engineering are certainly having an impact. While accidents have declined, fatalities from large vehicles, vehicles to pedestrians and vehicles to pedal-pedestrians has increased. Will the self-driving vehicle help improve safety? To…

Read More

Deconstructing the Economic Factors Affecting Professional Learning

By SmartBrief Editors This post is produced in partnership with UPCEA. The desire to advance in a career field or life in general is not enough for individuals who are ready to learn more and better their circumstances. Disparity exists when it comes to post-secondary education, including traditional college, certification programs and other forms of…

Read More

Competent Marketing Teams in a Turbulent Economy

As a fan of Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, I’ve come to relate the world of higher education with the rough waters of the Bering Sea. Enrollments can be as elusive as the prized Opilio crab. Different crab (Opilio, Alaskan King, Bairdi) react to different baits and locations, just as there are differences between Generation Z,…

Read More

Policy Matters | Increasing Partisan Divide in Views on Education (August 2019)

Welcome to the third installment in our monthly public policy primer, Policy Matters. Each issue has the latest updates and actionable items in public policy for adult and nontraditional education stakeholders. We’ve set up a form if you’re interested in learning more, and for continued updates from Policy Matters. Please note that you must sign up with this…

Read More

Fake Meat and an Informed Generation on Higher Education

I went out of my way to go to Burger King to try their Incredible Whopper.  It wasn’t bad, but it got me reflecting on “where did this come from and why?” After one of my presentations on Generation Z a few years ago, a higher education administrator said to me, “You can’t compare education…

Read More

The Cybercrime Urgency in Professional Learning Spaces

By SmartBrief Editors This post is produced in partnership with UPCEA It’s no secret that hackers are getting more sophisticated and that no businesses or organizations are immune. A reported 60% of large businesses and more than 50% of high-income charities have experienced cyber security breaches in the last year and a small business is…

Read More

Whether you need benchmarking studies, or market research for a new program, UPCEA Consulting is the right choice.

We know you. We know the challenges you face and we have the solutions you need. We speak your language and have been serving leaders like you for more than 100 years. UPCEA consultants are current or former continuing and online higher education professionals who are experts in the industry—put our expertise to work for you.


The National Council for Online Education is dedicated to advancing quality online learning at the institutional level. The National Council is uniquely focused on excellence at the highest levels – leadership, administration, strategy – applying a macro lens to the online teaching and learning enterprise. Its engaged members include the stewards of online learning at most of the leading universities in the nation.

The National Council for Online Education offers a variety of custom research options through a variable pricing model.


Click here to learn more.

The Nation's Top Universities Choose UPCEA Consulting

Informed decisions. Ideas that work. The data you need. Trusted by the top universities in the nation.