Giving Compass’ Take:
• Jeffrey R. Young writes about how colleges should adjust their offerings to support those seeking help during pandemic unemployment.
• How can you invest in colleges of all kinds to keep them thriving during coronavirus? What can you do to alleviate financial stressors for those struggling with pandemic unemployment?
Roughly one out of every four American workers are now unemployed, after jobless claims rose to more than 40 million this week. Typically, that results in a rush of people looking to higher education for new skills and credentials. But with such a sudden shift in the employment landscape, how can colleges best respond?
Helping explore the topic were:
- Ajita Menon, the president and CEO of California’s online-only community college, Calbright College.
- Lexi Barrett, associate vice president for policy at the nonprofit Jobs for the Future.
Experts at conferences have been talking for years about “the future of work”—how automation and other forces will reshape the job market, and how colleges need to create new kinds of offerings that are more flexible. Barrett said that with COVID-19, “it’s kind of like the future of work just dropped down on top of us all of a sudden.”
Menon argued it’s important that public universities work to serve learners “facing the greatest economic dislocation,” because otherwise predatory for-profit players will try to capitalize on their needs at a time of little regulation, in ways that don’t always deliver good results.
The pandemic is hurting the bottom line of colleges as well, with many already announcing budget cuts due to expected enrollment declines or reductions in state support.
“I do think it is problematic that during these periods we see states pulling back from investments in higher education,” said Menon. “What is required now is a degree of ingenuity around how we reposition and redeploy the work that happens on campus in a way that’s not just more efficient, but produces a more efficient result.”
Read the full article about higher education and pandemic unemployment by Jeffrey R. Young at EdSurge.
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