Career Connect “connects” UNT faculty, staff, students, and the community in mutually beneficial partnerships through high impact educational experiences like internships, volunteer work, service learning, use of an ePortfolio, or study abroad.
The Career Connect initiative:
- encourages UNT faculty, staff, and students to think intentionally about the job skills students learn within UNT curricular and co-curricular activities and
- provides students opportunities to work and learn in “real-life” settings and use their UNT ePortfolios to target, evaluate, and showcase their skills in written and oral communication, critical thinking, and teamwork.
We know that students, parents, and the general public expect universities to prepare students for life after graduation—whether that is a job or more academic study. We also know that students sometimes have difficulty identifying and understanding how their newly acquired marketable skills can translate to the workplace and how to showcase these skills to employers. Higher education must do more to encourage students to identify and document the range of their real-world, engaged experiences and marketable skills, and meaningfully collect, frame, and tailor them for potential employers upon graduation. Credentials are one new way of meeting these challenges.
At the University of North Texas we’re also attempting a broad approach to the challenge of helping students adequately signal the knowledge and skills attained through their experiences at the university. A major goal of our Career Connect initiative (careerconnect.unt.edu) is to help faculty, staff and students identify and signal relevant experiences (curricular and co-curricular) and coursework into marketable skills like communication, teamwork and critical thinking. As students progress through experiences at UNT, they are building evidence that accumulates over time and, when assessed, will allow UNT to issue marketable skills credentials/transcripts. Currently these competencies are showcased in a variety of ways, with the ultimate goal being the launch of UNT digital skills transcripts - comprehensive learner records - in fall 2020.
So, for UNT, micro-credentials are attained across and among the wide range of UNT high impact experiences, in the Core, and in the co-curricular realm. These micro-credentials then 'stack' (or scaffold to use an education term) in various combinations that can result in the overall UNT marketable skills or degree competency 'credentials' on the comprehensive learner record. They are of course digital, open, and machine readable).
Why marketable skills?
In addition to the university wide credentials, this project arrives at a time where the THECB has requested that every degree program the top five marketable skills students gain by participating in the program. Although evaluation of these skills is not a requirement of the state, the value in mapping out which activities in the degree program provide these skills, assessing these activities with feedback to students, and visually articulating the connection between assignments and skills desired by employers is immense.