This paper reports on a search for the New Foundational Skills of the digital economy. How and when do evolving skills change the job market? Which skills are in demand in both digitally intensive jobs, and more broadly? Which skills retain their value over time? If such a set of emergent, critical skills exists, how do the skills interact, and what do they mean for job seekers and incumbent employees, educators, and employers?
To find out, the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) commissioned Burning Glass Technologies to examine skills in the job market by drawing from a set of more than 150 million unique U.S. job postings, dating back to 2007. The research identified 14 skills that have become foundational in the new economy, which converge in three interrelated groups: Human Skills, business skills, and digital skills. Human Skills have a long history of close study, so BHEF and Burning Glass are especially pleased to subject these two other major segments of the skills continuum – Business Enabler and Digital Building Block Skills – to similar scrutiny.
BHEF’s Strategic Business Engagement Model serves as the foundation for building successful partnerships between business and higher education. This model moves the two sectors from transactional relationships to strategic partnerships through five strategies:
- ENGAGE corporate leadership;
- FOCUS corporate philanthropy on undergraduate education;
- IDENTIFY and tap core competencies and expertise;
- FACILITATE and encourage employee, faculty, and staff engagement;
- EXPAND the focus of funded research to include undergraduate education.
Recent examples of these successful partnerships:
Drake University offers undergraduate major and minor programs in data analytics, combining coursework and experiential learning, with classes ranging from algorithmic analysis of data and statistical modeling to ethics and communication. Drake shared the draft curricula with the greater Des Moines business community to solicit feedback and potential funding, and the university realized its goal of engaging corporations in central Iowa to sponsor the start-up costs for the program. Learn more.
BHEF and the Business Roundtable launched the Financial Services Industry Workforce Project to help prepare a diverse workforce well trained in cybersecurity, data science and analytics, risk management, and social and mobile technologies demanded by the financial services industry. Learn more.
To meet the demand for cyber-enabled workers in Maryland, BHEF members Northrup Grumman Corporation and the University of Maryland, College Park worked together to create the nation’s first undergraduate residential honors program in cybersecurity. Learn more.
Strengthen Talent Initiatives
BHEF focuses on evidenced-based practices and uses a rigorous methodology to strengthen our members’ efforts to develop highly skilled, engaged professionals. These regional talent pathways create undergraduate programs that produce a diverse pool of enabled, workforce-ready graduates for today’s high-skill jobs.
BHEF’s specific focus on undergraduate education is the result of extensive modeling. BHEF has pioneered the application of simulation modeling to better understand the U.S. education and workforce system, and this unique process allows us to build tools that will help meet the United States’ needs for graduates with robust skills in high demand fields. Learn more about BHEF’s four simulation models.
Recent examples of strengthening talent initiatives:
Funded by the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research, the Future Cyber Leaders Program brings together Washington D.C.-area defense sector companies and government agencies and select undergraduates from sponsoring defense sector organizations. To participate, students are nominated to join an exclusive cohort of peers in a seven-week program that provides cyber academic enrichment, leadership building, and networking opportunities. The first cohort of 30 students intern at BHEF-member companies Northrop Grumman Corporation, Parsons Corporation, and Raytheon Company. This leadership program supports interns by providing a summer of enriched, high-impact cyber experiences to complement their internships. Learn more.
Developing evidence-based approaches to higher education that meet business needs requires a thorough understanding of the desired skills and competencies. BHEF creates competency maps and uses labor analysis and employer input on talent needs to create knowledge and build new educational tracks that not only meet industry demand, but also widen opportunity for a more diverse field of students. This understanding informs the development of programs and curricula.
Identify Actionable Insights and Trends
A central feature of BHEF’s work is its reliance on evidence to inform strategy. Trend analysis informs our methodology to assess and map skills needs, align higher education with workforce needs, and position our members and their organizations for success.
We partner with a variety of companies, including Burning Glass Technologies, to identify emerging trends and challenges, and gather comprehensive data on industry and labor market needs in sectors of interest to BHEF members.