A Business Case for Education Reform from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recently posted the following information about education and the need for reform in order to fill job vacancies. View original site here.



OSU-Tulsa willing to make it worth students’ while to attend class on campus

By SARA PLUMMER Tulsa World Staff Writer on Jun 12, 2013, at 1:58 AM Updated on 6/12/13 at 8:22 AM

Student Margaret O’Brien (center) asks a question Tuesday as Sara Affify (left) and Sarah Hetherington, all of Tulsa, listen during a sociology class at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa. OSU-Tulsa will begin offering financial incentives to students who take classes on campus instead of online courses. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World

Administrators at Oklahoma State University-Tulsa say there are benefits to taking a college course in a classroom, and they are willing to put money on it.

Starting in the fall, OSU-Tulsa will offer $250 tuition waivers to undergraduate and graduate students in an effort to get people to take more classes on campus instead of online.

The “Get Here” tuition waiver is available for undergraduate students with a 2.0 grade-point average and taking at least 15 hours on campus and graduate students with a 3.0 grade-point average taking nine hours on campus.

Raj Basu, vice president of academic affairs at OSU-Tulsa, said the more hours students take, the more likely they are to finish their degree, which is the ultimate goal.

“There’s a clear value added for the student to come to class. We’re willing to take a financial hit,” Basu said. “They’ve got children. They’ve got a spouse. They’ve got a job. They need more incentives.”

For some students, the only way they can take classes is with the online option, Basu said. Others, however, choose online courses out of convenience, not realizing the benefits of in-classroom instruction.

“There’s value added when you come to class – the connection to fellow students, connection to the instructor,” he said.

Brianna Young obtained her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees by taking a combination of on-site and online courses at Tulsa Community College and then all online courses at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.

She said she sees the benefits and disadvantages of both, especially when her husband was also going to school.

“For a busy person like me with two kids at home,” online courses were a great choice, Young said. “Being able to take more online made it possible to take classes at the same time as him.”

There were times, though, when Young said she would have preferred being in a classroom.

“I tried to take a math class online at TCC and failed miserably,” she said. “I ended up taking it in class.”

People who take only online courses also miss out on the college experience, she said.

Young likes the idea of offering incentives to students to be in the classroom.

“Especially for younger students, it’s a great idea,” she said. “I don’t think people are as social as they should be. This would get them interacting. Taking classes on campus – I would have much rather have done that for the experience”

Online courses continue to grow in popularity. At OSU-Tulsa, total enrollment has increased 25 percent, almost entirely online, Basu said, with 20 percent of student credit hours being taken online.

People who can take classes on site shouldn’t dismiss the advantages, he said.

“This is not saying, ‘Don’t take online courses,’ ” Basu said. “For some, it’s the only option available. (But) they’ll miss out. We don’t want people to miss out.”

With online classes, students watch the class and read the notes online, and communication with the professor or other students is via email or messaging.

“Onsite, you can ask that question that’s in your mind,” Basu said. “Ten other people respond to that. Spontaneous interaction – that’s the thing that’s missing.”

Sara Plummer 918-581-8465 sara.plummer@tulsaworld.com

Link to original article here: http://www.tulsaworld.com/article.aspx/OSU_Tulsa_willing_to_make_it_worth_students_while_to/20130612_11_A9_CUTLIN216006?subj=1

Original Print Headline: You’re invited – to class

For most Tulsa STEM jobs, associate’s degree sufficient

Going back to school is daunting. Many times it’s easier to attempt educational feats one goal at a time – for instance, planning toward an associate’s degree before a bachelor’s degree.

For the majority, education and training is key to succeeding in a long-term career and according to a recent report by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, many of the Tulsa area STEM jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree.

The article is copied below, link to the original publication can be found at the end of this post.

Many of the Tulsa-area’s STEM jobs  –  those that require knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math  –  are blue collar jobs that require an associate’s degree or less, according to a report released Monday by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings.

In 2011, the Tulsa metro had 80,820 STEM Jobs and ranked 55th out of 100 U.S. metros, according to the report.

When ranked based on the percentage of jobs that require an associate’s degree or less, Tulsa was 14th out of 100. About 60 percent of the metro’s STEM jobs require an associate’s degree or less, while nearly 40 percent require a bachelor’s degree or more.

All engineers in Tulsa, for example, require a bachelor’s degree. Also, nearly 95 percent of financial specialists require a bachelor’s degree as do 84 percent of computer occupations in the metro area.

The average wage of a STEM job in Tulsa is $57,772. The average for a STEM worker with a bachelor’s degree is $77,231 compared to $44,851 for a STEM job requiring an associate’s degree or less, according to the report.

The major surprise is that there are so many jobs in blue collar occupations or occupations that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, but yet could be considered highly skilled STEM jobs, said Jonathan Rothwell, associate fellow and author of the report.

Nearly one-third of the STEM jobs in the United States are filled by craft professionals or other blue collar workers, according to the report.
In 2011, 26 million U.S. jobs, or 20 percent of all jobs, required a high level of knowledge in any STEM field, according to Brookings. This compares to previous estimates of 4 percent to 5 percent from the National Science Foundation and others, according to the report.

“The STEM economy is much broader and more diverse than previously understood,” Rothwell said.

Previous studies classified workers as STEM only if they worked in a small number of professional occupations.

The Brookings definition, by contrast, classifies occupations according to the level of knowledge in STEM fields that workers need to perform their jobs. As a result, many nonprofessional jobs in manufacturing, health care, construction and mining industries are considered STEM jobs, according to the report.

Tulsa has a mix of industries, including many energy-related jobs, that provide a lot of job opportunities for highly skilled workers, but workers who don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s degree or a Ph.D., Rothwell said. Many STEM jobs are in the manufacturing sector.

The largest STEM occupation in the Tulsa metro is made up of health diagnosing and treating practitioners at 12,990 jobs, and 38.5 percent of those require a bachelor’s degree.

But many local STEM jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree, including aircraft mechanics, service technicians, welders, production supervisors and machinists, he added.

“Community colleges, in particular, are an important source of STEM knowledge, and state and local governments as well as the federal government should recognize that in making their funding decisions. As it currently stands, community colleges get considerably less money per pupil than research universities, and yet they are turning out a large percentage of the national STEM workforce,” Rothwell said.

Top 10 STEM  occupations  in Tulsa metro in 2011

1. Health diagnosing and treating practitioners 12,990
2. Metal workers and plastic workers 7,520
3. Construction  trade workers 7,440
4. Computer  occupations 7,110
5. Financial specialists 6,170
6. Vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers and repairers 5,080
7. Engineers 4,630
8. Health technologists and technicians 3,650
9. Other installation  maintenance and repair occupations 3,150
10. Drafters, engineering technicians and mapping technicians 2,540

Laurie Winslow 918-581-8466

Link to original post: http://www.tulsaworld.com/article.aspx/For_most_Tulsa_STEM_jobs_associates_degree_sufficient/20130611_46_E1_CUTLIN361802

Best Practices: TCC increases 2013 graduates with Grad Blitz calling campaign

Tulsa Community College is leading by example to ensure that more students earn certificates of achievement and degrees. Team Blue member Kayla Harding and Team White member Taylor Clenney were among 32 Tulsa Community College employees who volunteered to make phone calls this spring to students who are close to graduation. As a result of the phone calling competition, called Grad Blitz, TCC is expecting more graduates this year.

Volunteers who were randomly placed on either the Blue Team or the White Team made 1,671 phone calls to remind students that in order to graduate, they must file for graduation. Through research, TCC has found that some students are under the assumption that after they complete the required classes for a degree or certificate, graduation is automatic. However, that is not the case. Every potential graduate must file for graduation.

Grad Blitz is one of the many ways TCC is actively participating in the Complete College America initiative, a national nonprofit organization established to increase the number of Americans who hold college credentials and close completion gaps for traditionally underrepresented groups.

Original Article: http://www.tulsacc.edu/about-tcc/publications/bluebytes/april-2013/tcc-increases-2013-graduates-grad-blitz-calling-campaign

Business Viewpoint: Higher education must prepare students for today’s workforce

By Bill Path
Thursday, March 7
Click here for original article.

There is a growing “skills gap” in America that, if left unchecked, threatens the stability of the U.S. workforce, the productivity of industry in this country and the reputation of colleges and universities.

The skills gap refers to the disparity between the skills possessed by average potential workers and the skills required by employers.

Traditionally, it has been the role of higher education to fill this gap by preparing young people to enter the workforce. But in recent years, many college graduates have unexpectedly found themselves in unemployment lines, while college officials have struggled to explain why.

Employers are quick to point out that the problem is not a lack of jobs, but a lack of workers with the advanced skills necessary for the jobs that are available.

Unprecedented advancements in workplace technology are partially to blame, but higher education also bears some of the responsibility for this national dilemma. Colleges have simply not done enough to keep up the rapidly changing needs of industry. Job entry level skills have changed, but traditional college teaching methods and curriculum have not.

If institutions of higher education are to regain the status and trust they once enjoyed, they must seriously re-examine their methods and outcomes. From the sobering trends we see in the nation’s labor force, there are many hard lessons that higher education must learn. Here’s what should be done:

  • Begin paying more attention to the job placement rates      of graduates.

While most of the collective focus in higher education has been on improving retention and graduation rates, far too little emphasis is placed on the ability of students to find jobs after graduation.

Lawmakers have called for more “accountability” from colleges across the country, and educators have responded by signing pacts to increase the overall percentage of completers at their institutions. But the problem is this: If traditional college degrees are not leading to actual jobs, and we are simply producing more graduates with these same degrees, then we are just contributing to the growing problem in the workforce of too many people being overeducated and underemployed.

  • Begin working closely and directly with employers.

Most colleges proudly promote that their “primary customer is the student.” This may sound great in a college recruitment brochure, but if students are not able to find meaningful employment with their diplomas, they are left to wonder about the kind of customer service they actually received.

Colleges would be wise to listen more carefully to the needs of employers and then make changes within their curriculum accordingly. Private sector businesses and industries should be seen as valuable partners and collaborative allies in the educational process, not just as potential donors.

  • Begin directing students into fields of applied      technology.

The conventional advice to young people has been to go to college and get a degree in anything – “just having a college degree will open doors for you.” Well, the rules have changed for first-time job seekers, and this kind of outdated academic advisement is not only ill-informed, it is irresponsible.

Not all college degrees are created equal. Some are much more sought after by employers, and students deserve to know this. Certain fields are saturated, yet colleges continue to produce graduates in these areas by the tens of thousands every year.

Today’s students must make smarter decisions about college. School officials should provide them with relevant workforce data about various majors and inform them about the differences between theoretical and applied instruction. Colleges should offer more options with applied, hands-on teaching methods in the fields of advanced and emerging technology.

5 Ways the New War For Talent Will Change the Workplace Forever by Ryan Healy

There’s a new war for talent. Even while some victims of the recession are still out of a job, workers with in-demand skills like programming and web design can work wherever they want and command a huge salary.

Companies are literally fighting a war every day to keep this talent in their organization – and to steal more skilled workers from the competition. If you think this is blowing things out of proportion, consider this: a recruiting firm sent 150 baskets of cookies to employees at social-game-creator Zynga to let them know they want to chat about opportunities at other companies. They didn’t send those baskets to their homes; they sent them to the Zynga office. Talk about brazen!

As the economy continues to recover, as Baby Boomers continue to retire, and as the gap between the skills companies need and the skills most people have continues to grow, this war for talent will only intensify. The companies who see this coming and are prepared to do what it takes to hire and retain the right people will survive and even thrive in this new war for talent. The companies who play the wait-and-see game will be in big trouble.

5 predictions on how things will change

This new war for talent will lead to major changes in the workplace. Here are five predictions for how it will change things forever.

1. Companies will begin teaching practical skills to employees, job candidates and anyone else who wants to learn.

As companies recognize the need to train talent, develop skills and retain employees, talent management and training and development are becoming even more critical for most successful organizations. Companies will become increasingly focused on developing their internal talent through professional education and non-stop feedback.

However, as the skills gap continues to widen, this will actually go a step further, and employers will begin teaching and offering practical skills-based education to anyone who wants to learn.

Whether it’s a job applicant or someone who just wants to grow professionally, everyone is a potential employee, so it makes sense from an employer branding and a recruiting perspective that companies offer this type of training to any interested party. A great example of how this is playing out right now is Living Social’s Hungry Academy.

2. The higher education institutions most resistant to change will collapse, the most forward-thinking institutions will re-invent the system and the cost of education will drop radically.

College – particularly the cost of college – is under fire. Occupy Wall Street showed the world just how much anger there is over rising costs and the subsequent student loans that prevent graduates from doing what they love.

Everywhere you look, you see new startups claiming to reinvent education, vying for a piece of this massive market. It’s inevitable that today’s notion of going to college for four years – and $150,000 – will change. The institutions that expect to stay relevant will have to do a much better job of preparing students for the workplace, and investing serious time and resources into improving their career centers. The question is: how fast will things change, and what exactly will this future look like?

These are enormous questions, and yet one thing is for sure: the institutions that survive will adapt to the new reality, and the ones that don’t will die.

3. The new “talent” will be life-long learners. The war for talent used to mean finding the most educated and most experienced people to work for you. But the new war for talent is a war for skills, a war for bright people who are constantly curious.

As technology continues to evolve and new skills become relevant overnight, it will be impossible for anyone to have all of the skills that a company needs at any given time. So the people you should be most interested in hiring are the people who want to learn and want to grow. These are the people who will be motivated to learn the new skills a company needs on their own, the people who will actually take advantage of training and development opportunities. New tools will pop up to help identify these people, and the best recruiters will be obsessed with hiring these life-long learners 4. Resumes will finally become irrelevant. As employers continue to recognize that the best hires do not necessarily have a college degree or relevant experience but are constantly curious generalists willing to learn what matters today, resumes will continue to become a poor judge of candidate.

We’ve been moving in this direction for years, but now more than ever, it’s nearly impossible to pick up a piece of paper or even a Linkedin profile and make a decision on whether a job candidate is worth interviewing.

The best way to know if someone is curious, driven and relevant is to ask them tough questions and find out what they read, what they’ve learned at their last position, and how they seek self improvement in their spare time.

5. Job boards will adapt or die as the resume is replaced by the instant need for personal communication between recruiter and candidate.

As resumes become increasingly irrelevant, the next industry to die or reinvent itself will be the job board. We’re already watching companies like Monster lay off hundreds of employees and put themselves up for sale. It’s pretty obvious that spraying and praying by clicking “apply” and hoping to hear back from employers is a broken process that leads to nothing but frustration by candidates and recruiters alike.

The new online job search is all about instant personal communication between recruiter and candidate. A combination of smart matching technology and “old-school” recruiting practices where a candidate is allowed to actually talk with a recruiter at the beginning of the process is the near future of this industry. My company, Brazen Careerist, is already testing this theory with our online recruiting events and seeing huge demand.

A very real war for talent is about to slap us all in the face – and it’s time to be prepared. The companies that are ready can use this transition to their advantage and come out on top as the next Apple or Google or Facebook.

The ones that don’t? They’ll likely find themselves out of business.

Ryan Healy is the Co-Founder and COO of Brazen – check out original post here.

Step by step FAFSA instructions

The following instructions are very detailed – but when it’s time to complete the FAFSA play this YouTube video at the same time and it will walk you through every detail.

Apply for federal aid now!

Each year the government allots a certain amount of money for college scholarships. The cycle begins each January – which is why now is the time to apply for grants from FAFSA. Check out this video and then go to FAFSA to complete your form.

“I don’t have enough money to go back to college”

When you’re choosing to go back to school there are plenty of mental obstacles to overcome. You’re going to be concerned about not having enough time or concerned about having difficulty in particular classes. All of these mental obstacles are difficult, but there are some physical obstacles that you’ll need to overcome including having enough money to go back to school. We have resources to help you find and apply for grants, scholarships and student loans.

Let’s tackle government funding first – what options are available from the Oklahoma and Federal government to help you pay for school? Luckily for you, there are a variety, and also great websites to help you maneuver through the decisions.

Check out the Federal Aid website to see what types of aid you are eligible and how to apply for it.

Another really helpful site is the College Navigator site – the site is created to show school options and includes cost of tuition as well as how many students attending the school are attending on scholarships or government loans. Research is the first step to choosing a school and then deciding how to pay for it.

Investing in education

College and University educations are not cheap – but they will pay off in a big way. According to the U.S. Department of Education the 2011 median weekly pay for a person with “some college” compared to a person with a bachelor’s degree was over $300 a week; which reaches over $17,000 in just a year.

According to the U.S. Institute of Education Sciences, the average cost of a four-year degree for the 2010-2011 school year was $15,605 for public institutions and $31,975 for private insititutions.*

The return on investment for attending a university as an adult is clear – the tuition rates for public colleges and universities are less than the average increase in pay.  That’s just one year!  Additionally, some businesses will pay for their employees to attain a bachelor’s degree, or provide money towards the degree.  There are also a variety of non-employer scholarship and grant opportunities available.

Stay tuned for the next blog, which will review some tips on paying for college.

*This figure includes tuition as well as room and board rates charged for full-time undergraduate students in degree-granting institutions.