2023 Bridget Burns

‘The tools for bridging the gap from education to employment are already out there’

Reflections on The Future of Work 2023 from WorkingNation Advisory Board member Bridget Burns

We asked our WorkingNation Advisory Board to share their thoughts on the most important issues and challenges facing the workforce and the labor market in the coming year.

Named one of the “Most Innovative People in Higher Education” by Washington Monthly, Bridget Burns is the founding CEO of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA).

Here are her thoughts on The Future of Work 2023.

“At a moment when a quality postsecondary education stands to benefit millions of Americans, many are questioning its value. Two-thirds of students wonder whether college is worth the cost, while three-quarters of employers say that a college degree is no longer a reliable signal of a job candidate’s quality.

Yet, we all know the impact a college degree has on lifelong earnings. This disconnect remains one of the biggest challenges facing our labor force, but I have reason for optimism. 

Across the country, I talk to institutions who are working toward a bolder reimagining of what higher education can do and who it can serve. Increasingly, there is a recognition among postsecondary leaders that career services should be a central component of a student’s educational journey from day one, equipping learners with the tools they need to gain the experiences and skills necessary to thrive in today’s world of work.

We’re seeing more institutions work collaboratively with faculty, career services, and employers to integrate career readiness into curriculum. Students are being taught that they have a responsibility to pursue and create experiences outside of the classroom. Institutions can work hand-in-hand with employers to surface these opportunities and prepare learners for exploring and ultimately beginning their careers. 

Fortunately, higher education is starting to not only hear this drumbeat but respond to it.  Leaders are openly discussing the urgency of this shift and are expressing a willingness to investigate solutions that build a career-readiness-first culture.

Even better, they don’t have to do it alone.

The tools for bridging the gap from education to employment are already out there. It’s no longer a question of whether it is possible to reimagine higher education in a way that truly produces the graduates employers need. We know it is. Institutions now just need the courage and commitment to navigate this change moment. I’m hopeful we’ll see more of that courage in 2023.”

You can read all The Future of Work 2023 articles from our WorkingNation Advisory Board here.