Education, Business Leaders Highlight ‘Launch My Career’ Successes

Do students and parents have all the information they need to make informed decisions about college? And are institutions of higher learning plugged in with the business community to ensure students are prepared for the workforce? And what can students actually expect when they enter the job market?

These questions and more were discussed on June 20, during an event updating the public on the Launch My Career portals.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) partnered with the American Institutes for Research, Gallup, and Strada Education Network on a national event highlighting recent work examining the return on investment in higher education.

USCCF has been engaged with state business leaders to identify the hottest jobs and the most in-demand skills.

“The importance of information is key,” said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president at the USCCF’s Center for Education and Workforce. “Without transparency and information on outcomes and possible career pathways, as well as the necessary skills, we’re never going to get where we want to go.”

Launch My Career launched one year ago, utilizing education and workforce data to provide program-level outcomes, such as program specific graduation rates, salaries, and time to degree. Moreover, the portals offer information on the jobs and skills that are most in demand.

The June 20th event coincided with the release of the Foundation’s new report, Learning to Work, Working to Learn, that outlines promising examples of partnerships that integrate career development throughout a student’s college experience. The report explains the work of 10 colleges that have connected with the business community to give students meaningful work-based learning experiences.

Launch My Career portals are now live in Tennessee, Colorado, and Texas, with more states forthcoming. Mark Schneider, is vice president of American Institutes for Research and president of College Measures, which developed Launch My Career.

“The fact of the matter is they have been burying this information in all kinds of weird places,” Schneider said in keynote remarks. “We went to several states and said ‘You have these data. Help us liberate them.’”

Schneider said the discussion of skills has taken on new importance, noting that those with in-demand degrees must constantly update skills in order to remain competitive. On the flipside, he said students with liberal arts degrees can prepare themselves for lucrative jobs by obtaining certain skill sets.

“The discussion about skills is the most important one we can have,” Schneider said. “Skills are never locked down. We need to tell our students that skills are never going to be permanent skills.”

For state education leaders, Launch My Career is the start of a serious discussion about the return on investment in higher education that starts as early as middle school.

“It’s great to create more dialogue about affordability and outcomes for students,” said Laura Chrisco, director of design and implementation for Texas OnCourse at the University of Texas.

Texas OnCourse offers free resources to families and advisors to help students make informed choices about college and technical school.

This information is especially useful now, as the cost of education has increasingly led to students taking on high levels of education debt.

“We talk a lot about college debt, and how little fun it is to be strapped,” said Amelia Bozeman, executive director of the Business Education Partnership Foundation in Tennessee. “Launch My Career is something that will really help kids go into life with their eyes wide open.” 

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Launch my career
Education leaders in Tennessee, Colorado, and Texas discuss their experiences with the Launch My Career portal at a public event at Gallup on June 20. Photo by Fausto Turro, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.