With skills mapping, colleges create a ‘universal language’ to explain value

Traditional colleges looking to fortify the liberal arts are adopting a practice from workforce-oriented institutions that aligns curriculum and job requirements.


When Allison Cleveland-Roberts sought to make sure graduates at the University of South Florida were adequately prepared for today’s job market, she turned to an old resource, with a twist: help wanted ads.

Using data aggregated from actual job listings, Cleveland-Roberts was able to present faculty in the 22 mostly liberal arts-based departments she oversees with a list of the skills graduates needed to thrive in a variety of jobs.

“Some were baffled at the gaps they found,” said the associate dean for academics in the College of Arts and Sciences at the 50,000-student research university based in Tampa. Among the 65 programs and 600 faculty within those 22 departments, they found a wide range of how professors accepted the advice and set out to make necessary changes. “Some hated it,” she said, “but they still got the point.”


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