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Grads Starting a Step Behind
"All of us in education are concerned about better preparing students for the workplace," says LeeAnne Fisher, Assistant Vice President for Associations, Government, and Career Pathways at Pearson.
"Employers—even the statistics—tell us that there is a major skills and training gap," she says.
Consider the burgeoning field of sustainability—for undergraduates and graduates.
"Many four-year public colleges have already recognized that courses in sustainability across a variety of disciplines is a necessary component of academics," LeeAnne says.
"They understand its importance for students to apply the concepts to business, the trades, the hospitality industry, the culinary arts, even healthcare," she says. "Even companies now understand that sustainability is not just a socially positive movement, it's also profitable for the bottom line."
One study says the number of "green jobs" in the U.S. could reach 4.2 million by 2038—that's five times today's total count. (The study, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, was conducted by Global Insight in 2008.)
"But students taking courses in sustainability still graduate without the professional readiness to have an impact right away in the workplace," LeeAnne says.
A Smoother Employment Pathway
That's different for students at Everglades University in Boca Raton, Florida.
The school already had a robust sustainability program.
Now, through Pearson's partnership with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the University now offers courses approved by the USGBC that offer successful graduates a foundation in the field of sustainability.
"And with over 700 business partners associated with the USGBC in Florida," LeeAnne says, "we've also paved an easier pathway to employment for these graduates."
A Bigger Coursework Footprint
"When we first started talking with our colleagues at Everglades University," LeeAnne says, "they figured they would apply these courses simply to their curriculum in construction.
"Over time, they decided to make sure ALL their students would take an introductory course in sustainability—from the construction management programs to environmental policy and management to business and alternative medicine," she says. "It's now a general education requirement."
Monika Kondura is a course instructor at Everglades who says "the content provided a nice foundation."
"The material was comprehensive, up-to-date and no student seemed to have problems understanding the content," she says.
An Easier, Better Way
"If you don't have a program like this in your college or university," LeeAnne says, "then a student has less options and preparation to step into the growing number of green jobs requiring sustainability education, training, and certification."
"Today's students know that they need better pathways to employers," LeeAnne says. "Grades don't carry the weight they once carried. Students—and employers—are looking for something that can set job applicants apart, like a professional certification."
"Pearson can be the bridge between schools and these associations like the USGBC," says Pearson's Erin Smith who works with Pearson as Learning Business Partner.
"We're acting as the binding agent behind organizations, certifications, and students."