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Curriculum Design and Assessment to Address the Industry Skills Gap

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Gainful Employment: Preparing Technicians to Satisfy the Needs of Industry

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.345.1 - 24.345.14



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Paper Authors


David I. Spang Burlington County College

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Dr. David Spang is the Provost at Burlington County College in Pemberton, NJ. Prior to being named Provost, Dr. Spang served as Vice President of Academic Programs and as Dean of the Science, Mathematics, and Technology division. Dr. Spang holds a PhD degree in Materials Science and Engineering and a MBA degree, with a concentration in Innovation and Technology Management. Prior to joining academia, Dr. Spang spent nearly twenty years in R&D and business development.

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Curriculum Design and Assessment to Address the Industry Skills GapThe bureau of labor statistics notes that the current number of open positions in the UnitedStates is approximately 3.7 million, yet the official unemployment rate (U-3) remains at7.3% representing 11.3 million people, while an alternative and more inclusive measureof unemployment (U-6) is 13.7% and represents 21.2 million people. The existence ofunfilled positions, as compared to the total number of unemployed persons, issignificantly influenced by the availability of qualified candidates in areas for which thereis an apparent skills gap, i.e. jobs for which there are few or no qualified candidates. Thisskills gap compounds the already pressing employment and economic problems in theUnited States, and in the world.A sound approach to address and eliminate the skills gap is to align curriculum with theneeds of employers and give students a seamless and transparent pathway towardachieving a credential such as an Associates degree, Baccalaureate degree, or certificate.Additionally, care must be taken to supply students with an opportunity to achieve theseacademic milestones with little or no debt, and by means of flexible delivery modes thataccommodate work and life responsibilities. This is somewhat different than the currentmodel of higher education and career-technical education. Additionally, a process ofcontinuous review and improvement is needed to ensure curriculum alignment withindustry and employer needs, along with reliable means of assessment to objectivelymeasure and verify that students have gained the requisite competencies.This paper describes the efforts of a Community College Partnership Network (CCPN)involving Associates degree and Baccalaureate degree granting institutions, secondaryschools, and County and State governmental agencies, to address the real-time needs ofemployers for the purposes of preparing a well-educated and high value-addedprofessional workforce. Interactive mechanisms of collaboration such as advisorycommittees, student employment opportunities, undergraduate research programs, anapplications-based curricular approach, and continuous improvement and assessmentmechanisms are outlined and are central to the effort.

Spang, D. I. (2014, June), Curriculum Design and Assessment to Address the Industry Skills Gap Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20236

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