Big Business Influences College Curriculum

November 13, 2019
Author: Stephanie Ludwigsen

Several tech icons, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are helping colleges define their curriculum. By partnering with universities to create tech-focused certificate programs, these businesses are helping students refine their skills to fill gaps and land in-demand jobs.

Big Business Working With Colleges to Close Skills Gaps

Tech Influenced Curriculum

One of the most successful certificate programs, spearheaded by AWS and a computer science professor at Santa Monica College, focused on cloud computing skills. Listed as one of the most in-demand hard skills, companies like AWS must customize the curriculum in order to create talent with the needed skills. In this case, that skill was cloud computing and something Amazon was desperately needing.

Another example of a tech influenced curriculum is the IT Support Professional Certificate, designed by Google. Introduced in January 2018, the IT Support Professional Certificate helps people prepare for entry-level roles in IT support. The courses are offered through some community colleges and online. This certificate program not only serves Google, who admittedly struggled to fill roles but also other companies. According to Google, there are over 200,000 unfilled IT support roles in the United States.

Seeking Talent

In the quest to recruit talent, companies often partner with universities that offer targeted training to prepare students for specific roles. The symbiotic relationship between the academic and business world equips students with the skills necessary to close talent gaps and propel businesses forward.

The Relationship Between School and Work

Oftentimes a company’s recruiting success is a byproduct of a fruitful relationship with an academic institution. Research presented by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) found that:

  • 63 percent of executives and hiring managers expressed confidence in colleges and universities.
  • 74 percent of hiring managers said they feel college graduates have the ability to apply their skills and knowledge to complex problems in the workplace.
  • 93 percent of executives and 94 percent of hiring managers say an internship or apprenticeship would give a recent graduate a competitive edge in the recruiting process.

Business and School Partnership

AACU’s research found that the majority of companies partnering with colleges and universities are doing so through:

  • Internship offers
  • Assistance with curriculum development
  • Adjunct faculty roles
  • Scholarships
  • Industry-specific degree or certificate collaborations

In other STEM fields, industry and university collaborations help students gain hands-on experience, increase skills and make influential connections. According to VentureWell, which focuses on the science and technology sectors, “Faculty needs to think and act like entrepreneurs to establish and maintain solid industry and university collaborations. These mutually beneficial partnerships can produce groundbreaking research and innovation that solve complex problems, drive economic growth, and create a more skilled workforce.”

Providing Employees with Opportunities

By understanding what companies need in the modern workforce, institutions can refine their curriculum and training to better prepare students. When the curriculum fails to meet the needs of the business world, organizations are jointly tasked with schools to tackle the skills issue together. This partnership should bring real-world experience, relevant skills and pertinent job training to future leaders.