EdMedia Commons Archive

Higher Ed Podcast: When Getting a Job Means Getting a Degree

This is the first in a series of podcasts drawn from EWA’s Nov. 4-5 Higher Ed seminar at UCLA.

While a college education was once considered an advantage in the workforce, it is increasingly becoming an essential for getting a job with a livable wage. In order to succeed in the workforce, grow the economy and position it to prosper in the future, what types of graduates and skills do employers need from higher education now?
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  • Nicole Smith, senior economist, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
  • Alexander Astin, founding director, Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA
  • Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor of workforce development, California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office

Moderated by Emily Richmond, EWA public editor


  • 2:11 – Postsecondary Ed and Job opportunities from the 1970s forward
  • 4:25 – The idea of “20 Million Degrees”
  • 8:30 – The STEM pipeline
  • 15:40 – The recent history of American higher education
  • 21:30 – Unusual qualities employers look for in grads
  • 30:54 – What higher ed can do to support these qualities
  • 36:15 – Closing the gap between what colleges teach and what employers want
  • 39:30 – “Perhaps the greatest value of employers at this moment in time is to inform curriculum.”
  • 42:00 – Stacking credentials to make education more responsive to modern career realities
  • 49:03 – Alternative strategies for teaching skills

Q & A:

  • If a woman who has a master’s degree can do the same job as a man with a bachelor’s degree, but he earns more, should colleges be offering women classes in negotiation skills?
  • What should the mission of community college be? A gateway to higher education, or a means to relieve overcrowding at college campuses?
  • How is it good for the US to have a higher education system that’s based on what businesses need than on lifelong learning?
  • Are there any findings that show new grads who speak another language have higher pay or better job prospects?

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.