Kentucky is the first state in the nation to pilot a certification process that ensures college graduates are ready for the workforce with essential employability skills, or the so-called “soft skills,” that employers say are often lacking in graduates.
Launched just one year ago, three programs are now certified, including two bachelor’s degree programs at Murray State University--construction engineering and technology, and occupational health and safety—and an associate degree in medical assisting at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
The Essential Employability Qualities (EEQ) certification signals to employers that academic programs integrate essential skills into the curriculum. Essential skills include communication, thinking and problem solving, inquiry, collaboration, adaptability, learning, principles and ethics, and responsibility and professionalism.
“Employers are telling us that we do a pretty good job training our graduates in their academic area, but we don’t do as well in helping them to understand the competencies that they will need in the workplace, whether it’s showing up on time, communicating or solving problems,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson.
“I don’t call these soft skills. These are essential skills, or employability skills, that our graduates need for successful careers,” he added.
The certification also ensures that employers have helped shape the program design and evaluation.
Four other campuses are pursuing certification of their programs, including Kentucky State University, University of Kentucky, Gateway Community and Technical College, and Jefferson Community and Technical College. Each participating campus has at least three programs.
“Kentucky is truly the leader in doing this work,” said Ralph Wolff, CEO and founder of QA Commons, the Council’s partner with this project. “Our goal is every graduate of every program in Kentucky will leave with employability skills that will prepare them well for the workforce, and not for just the first job, but also their career.”
Criteria used to evaluate the programs relate to graduate preparation, career support services, employer engagement, student and alumni engagement and career information.
For more information, visit https://theqacommons.org/.
The Council on Postsecondary Education is leading efforts to get more Kentuckians more highly educated. By 2030, at least 60 percent of working-age adults in Kentucky will need to have earned a postsecondary education degree or credential to meet expected workforce demands.