January 27, 2016

Changing the Debate on Quality Assurance in Higher Education (DRAFT)

* Please note, this is an advanced preview and the final paper will be released in February, 2016.

Since 2014 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has addressed long-standing challenges around employer engagement in education and workforce systems. Through the Talent Pipeline Management initiative, we have explored applying lessons learned from supply chain management to expand the leadership role of employers as end-customers of talent supply chain partnerships. However, some concepts introduced through our work have yet to be fully explored, including how employers can designate preferred providers for sourcing talent. This requires a deeper exploration into lessons learned from supplier quality assurance and certification systems in supply chain management.

The challenge we are confronted with now is how to extend these lessons learned from supply chain management to a rapidly changing postsecondary environment where higher education accreditation plays a major quality assurance role. Solving this challenge cannot be narrowly defined in terms of how to reform accreditation; nor can it be a solution driven by government mandate, finance, and regulation.

Instead we argue that there is a need for a different approach that would establish a voluntary, employer-driven talent supplier recognition and certification system—one that can complement the existing accreditation system and be used to improve government-supported quality assurance systems over time.

We begin with an overview of the Talent Pipeline Management initiative and lessons learned from supply chain management in supplier quality assurance and certification. Next, we present two approaches for expanding the employer role in higher education accreditation and a roadmap for developing an independent, employer-driven system. We then address implications for scaling and sustaining this new approach and conclude by issuing a call to action.

Click the link below to read the draft.