Giving Compass' Take:

• Universities are expanding their programs to better prepare their students as job creation rates continue to increase. 

• What are some examples of successful higher ed innovation advancing students' job opportunities? How can donors support higher education innovation?

• Here are five ideas for education innovation in 2019. 

On the heels of strong job numbers and low unemployment throughout 2018, the hiring outlook for the year ahead maintains that momentum. Job creation continues to be up, with the U.S. labor department just last week reporting a record 7.3 million job openings in December 2018 and payroll growth at its highest since 2015.

Yet, all of this good news nearly overshadows the reality that there is a finite pool of skilled workers for many of the fastest-growing roles, including software development engineers, business analysts, genetic counselors, and nurse practitioners. We need to move quickly to educate workers across the country for jobs in tech, finance, healthcare and more.

There has been a lot of hand-wringing about who will step up to meet the current needs of the skills shortage, and higher education has come under scrutiny, accused of not equipping students enough for the workforce. But across the country, university deans are answering the call to drive innovation within their schools in a variety of ways.

Notably, they are expanding their continuing education departments—the arm of the school that has the most flexibility, can move quickly, and is organically connected to the local community. Once considered an unassuming part of the university serving a limited demographic, today’s continuing-ed departments resemble innovation labs, able to launch new programs, engage with outside partners, and respond to employment trends—all with the support and structure of the university.

In my experience working with continuing-ed departments to bridge that gap, and speaking with deans of both large public research institutions and small private colleges, there are three specific areas of innovation that I am excited to see taking root: increased accessibility, more affordability, and a commitment to meet the fast-changing needs of local employers.

Read the full article about universities answering the call for innovation by Dan Sommer at EdSurge