Maybe it’s growing unease
with Big Tech or bad PR
from the “coding for coal miners” projects from the Obama era, but tech jobs have been largely written out of workforce solutions the Biden administration is touting
, as a source told me this week.
More colleges are partnering with tech companies to help ensure that the skills they offer students are relevant and up to date. The SAS Institute, for example, now has formal partnerships with roughly 200 colleges and universities in the U.S., and 396 institutions globally.
The large analytics software company, which was created in the ‘70s by the leaders of a project at North Carolina State University, works with colleges to integrate its suite of analytics software into curricula. The institute’s free academic hub offers SAS courses and certifications
to educators and students, including “academic specialization” badges students can put on their LinkedIn profiles or resumes.
“We are seeing recruiters and hiring managers from top companies expand their use of badges as an industry-standard verification of skills and competencies,” says Lynn Letukas
, senior director of global academic programs and certifications for SAS Education.
Last year more than 180,000 U.S. job postings cited demand for SAS skills. And Letukas says faculty members generally have a good idea of the skills students will need in the job market.
“However, what they may not know, and where we can help, is what distinguishing skills can give their students a competitive advantage over other early-career prospects,” she says. “This is especially important at less selective and open-access institutions, where students may already be at a disadvantage for getting interviews and/or jobs at top companies.”
Staying current with tech skills can be a full-time gig, Letukas says. Through partnerships with the company, faculty members receive instruction from the institute’s trainers on up-to-date tools related to statistics, analytics, AI, and machine learning.
The company is continuing to build relationships between highly selective colleges and top employers. But Letukas says SAS credentials from less-selective and open-access institutions can signify to employers that the skills and competencies taught in those programs are just as strong as those from name-brand universities.
For example, Rhode Island College is working with the institute to create an analytics certificate with an eye toward the local labor market.
RIC is facing reduced enrollment. With the new certificate and courses in high-demand areas such as data analytics, the college is hoping to help attract both traditional high school graduates and working professionals who need to upskill
, says Lisa Z. Bain
, a professor at RIC’s School of Management.
“SAS skills are desired by the IT industry, so it makes our students more marketable,” Bain says.
The institute uses labor market data from Emsi (more from Emsi, below), a team of industry experts, and partnerships with a wide range of companies to help colleges better align academic programs with the early-career skills sought by top employers.
“We have moved from a more knowledge-based approach to a performance-based exam where candidates actually use our software in a live lab environment while testing—a shift from ‘tell me’ to ‘show me,‘“ Letukas says. “From a hiring perspective, anyone can say they use SAS, but being able to demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in the environment—the show me—is enormously valuable.”