Instead of paying staffing firms $25K or more
to replace each employee in high-turnover fields, a new project
seeks to redirect that corporate spending toward a college degree completion program aimed at hiring more diverse—and loyal—entry-level workers.
The effort is led by GetSet Learning, a Chicago-based company focused on student retention
. GetSet will recruit participants who are second-year community college students or who hold 60 college credits.
As a first step, companies will connect participants with an online microinternship
—a paid, asynchronous work project of 10 to 20 hours on a platform such as Parker Dewey
. Partner companies then will be able to recruit students who complete the microinternships to offer them “sponsored degrees” from either Arizona State University or Northeastern University
- Students will pay no tuition or fees for the last two years of the degree program and will be able to choose from the wide range of online degrees offered by the two initial partner universities.
- In exchange, students will agree to work for at least two years at the sponsoring employer after they graduate.
The all-in cost for the degree programs and student supports will be just under $25K per participant
, according to GetSet. Students will be on the hook for those costs—which are being financed by Stride Funding
—if they quit their job in less than two years.
The benefits of a guaranteed job and covered tuition to earn an online degree from ASU or Northeastern will be strong, the project’s leaders argue. And companies are likely to recoup most of their investment with what they save in employee recruitment and retention.
“The model is exciting because it does have the potential to scale,” says Kemi Jona
, assistant vice chancellor of digital innovation and enterprise learning at Northeastern. “There’s skin in the game on both sides.”
GetSet will prioritize recruiting lower-income students who are Black, Latino, or Indigenous.
The partnership’s potential payoff for learners was a draw for ASU, says Maria Anguiano
, executive vice president of the university’s learning enterprise. She described the project as a “way to grow economic mobility and pathways for students.”
Other colleges and universities are seeking to join the effort, says Karan Goel
, GetSet’s CEO and cofounder. Likewise, he predicts major employers in several industries will sign up, including ones in cybersecurity, IT, K-12 education, and accounting and finance firms.
ASU and Deloitte have an existing partnership that has several characteristics of the GetSet project. The company sponsors degree completion at ASU for community college students. It also recruits from the program’s graduates, who are not required to work at Deloitte, however.
“Going to the Top 20 campuses—we’ve done that for our whole existence,”
says Jason Greenlee
, an audit managing director for Deloitte. “Going to the community college level, that’s something we haven’t done.”
Greenlee says a key driver of the industry’s retention problem is a lack of relationship building with entry-level workers. Connecting while a future employee is still in college will go a long way toward developing deeper ties.
“There’s a finish line,” he says. “There’s a real, tangible career there for you.”
Deloitte also will pair participants with mentors, which Greenlee says is particularly important for entry-level workers from underserved backgrounds.
A focus on careers is hardly new for Northeastern, a pioneer in cooperative education
. But Jona hopes the sponsored degree model provides a template for helping more underserved students make the transition to a job.
The Kicker: “For many, many years it’s been a four-years-and-throw-them-over-the-wall model,” he says.