Where will your company turn in 20 years for new college-educated hires, and courses for incumbent employees? Your local campus?
Many experts put the odds below 50-50 that you will come anywhere near an ivy-covered hall for your educational needs. Higher education is facing the same kind of technology-driven disruptive change that has overtaken other information-based industries such as newspapers, bookstores and video rental. The talk in the field revolves around alternative business models and innovative delivery systems, from new competitors, individual institutions, and consortia such as Cambridge-based edX.
Employers, in fact, are at the center of this change. The established higher education model has been unable to keep pace with employers’ programmatic needs, or to provide sufficient flexibility in terms of timing and location. It also tends to be pretty expensive. Today's career-oriented undergraduates, and especially older "nontraditional" students, are attuned to these issues. It's hard to imagine a more "traditional" college student than Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel – yet "Johnny Football" is reportedly taking all his Texas A&M courses online this semester.
The headlines focus on elite private research universities going online, but they may actually be among the least affect by the disruption. The larger impact, one expert notes, will be on less prestigious institutions that "face disintermediation in their existing relationships among employers and students." With the number of high school graduates dropping in Massachusetts and the northeast, these comprehensive campuses will be hard-pressed to fill their classrooms by attracting more "nontraditional" and graduate students.
That's what is so important about edX, which began with MIT and Harvard, now includes major state universities (UC-Berkeley, Texas), and is bringing in community colleges (Bunker Hill, Mass Bay).
And that's why AIM's March 15 Executive Forum with Anand Agarwal, President of edX, should be of interest to all employers. It's not just about the future of one of our state's key economic sectors and resources, or about a tradition-bound industry moving towards a new business model – it's about new opportunities for employers and employees in an increasingly competitive knowledge-based economy.
You’ve carefully vetted a job applicant - background check, Internet search, reference check – and are finally confident enough to make an offer. You call the applicant, who politely responds , “No thanks.”
Turns out that while you were checking out the applicant, the applicant was checking out your company by reviewing Web sites that give former and current employees free rein to evaluate and criticize an employer without accountability.
The number of Web sites enabling an applicant to look inside the working conditions and culture of your company has exploded. These socially networked sites provide information on salaries, job security, career potential and other topics that may create a distorted view of your company if you’re not paying attention.
When did you last check your company’s online reputation? If you have experienced significant turnover or major changes in policies, working conditions or benefits, it may be time to do so. Now is also the time to incorporate an online reputation review into your hiring process and business reputation audit.
Where do you begin? Here are some popular Web sites used by employees/applicants to communicate with one another about your company. Plug in the name of your company and see what appears.
- Glassdoor.com - “An inside look at jobs and companies.” Topics discussed include companies, salaries, detailed company reviews posted anonymously by employees, and jobs.
- Jobitorial.com - Bills itself as a place individuals can get an inside look at jobs and companies. Welcomes users with the tag line “we want you to have all the information you need to make the best career decisions.”
- CareerBliss.com - Apart from the employee-based company reviews and analysis of company cultures, the site includes up-to-date information on salaries, from entry level to industry averages.
- Jobbite.com - Allows professionals to share their experiences regarding current and past employers, discussing topics such as salary and company culture.
What should you do if you encounter negative reviews? Your reputation is at stake and your ability to hire in the future may be at risk.
Flooding Web sites with glowing comments about your company will spark doubts about your credibility and possibly get your comments flagged and accounts disabled – all of which compounds doubts about the workplace. Trying to find the culpable posters will lead to more damaging reviews.
Responding to this issue requires more a thoughtful strategy:
- Review the online content to determine if any of it is true. If it is, take action to address the issue(s).
- Consider asking select current employees to post their comments, at intervals, on the Web sites.
- Advocate on your own behalf. If your company has won awards or received recognition as a workplace, get that information onto these Web sites.
- Reach out to your satisfied customers and ask them to post feedback on your company.
Speak with your IT department about installing software that will allow you to track Web searches of your company. Once you are notified, keep abreast of what people are saying so that you can prevent problems from developing in the future.
Have you encountered other sites used by employees or job applicants? If so, please share them in the comments section below.
The Massachusetts economy relies upon a workforce of world-class science, technology, engineering, and math professionals. But every year thousands of promising young people – particularly black and Hispanic students, female students, and students from low-income families - leave high school without having taken the challenging courses required to succeed in these fields.
That’s a big potential economic problem for the commonwealth and its employers.
Now, there good news about the Mass Math + Science Initiative (MMSI) from Bill Guenther of Mass Insight. MMSI is an initiative to expand access and improve outcomes in college-level Advanced Placement high school courses, involving 46 public high schools across Massachusetts. AIM is a lead association partner of MMSI, one of six state programs under the National Math and Science Initiative.
The first piece of news is that an independent evaluation of MMSI found that it significantly increased participation and success in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) AP courses and exams, especially among African American and Hispanic students.
Not only did MMSI schools have significantly increased numbers and percentages of AP math, science and English exams taken by students, in relation to the baseline year and to comparable schools, but they also had higher numbers and percentages of students scoring 3 or higher on the AP’s 1-5 scale. Such scores reflect measurable achievement and can lead to college credit and consequent tuition savings.
The evaluation found that African-American and Hispanic students in MMSI schools took nearly four times more math, science and English AP exams than their counterparts in other high need/low income schools. MMSI accounted for 36 percent of AP exams by African American and Hispanic students scoring 3 or better in Massachusetts, about twice the baseline rate.
The second piece of good news is a grant of $1 million over three years to MMSI from Thermo Fisher Scientific, a lead corporate sponsor of the initiative. This funding, an outstanding example of corporate philanthropy in support of a vital statewide cause, is especially critical at a time when government finances are stretched and foundations face many calls on their resources.
The Thermo Fisher award recognizes MMSI’s record of success as well as the need for expansion. The program evaluation projected that if all high-need/low-income schools in Massachusetts had an AP participation rate similar to MMSI schools, more than 1,000 additional AP exams would have been taken by African American and Hispanic students in 2010-11.
For more information, visit www.massinsight.org/mmsi.