Customizing the Delaware Valley’s future workforce today

Customizing the Delaware Valley’s future workforce today

2021-09-22T12:18:40+00:00September 22nd, 2021|Economy, South Jersey|

Writer:  Felipe Rivas

thomas edison state university delaware2 min read September 2021 — In an ever-changing job market, constant collaboration between educational institutions and industry partners is crucial for the professional development of students and fostering a thriving business ecosystem. As a leader in online education and the only public institution in New Jersey solely focused on adult education, Thomas Edison State University (TESU) is at the crux of equipping its students with the skills and industry experience necessary to thrive in today’s constantly changing job market. 

Featuring strategic alliances with corporate partners, such as UPS, JetBlue, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), various healthcare providers and regional chambers of commerce, the university’s Strategic Partnerships team is keenly focused on aligning its programs and curricula with the needs of its student body and the local and regional business community.  

With its focus on adult online education, TESU’s online formats provide flexible degree offerings in high-demand fields that meet the needs and goals of its partners and their employees. “Thomas Edison State University meets our students where they are in both their professional and personal lives.  Our Strategic Partnerships team is dedicated to helping organizations succeed and our partners benefit from TESU’s affordable tuition and our corporation tuition rate. There is a mutual trust and loyalty, adding to the foundation of our partners’ success,” Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships Kelli Parlante-Givas told Invest:. “TESU works with corporations to expand access to higher education for adult learners by creating a pathway from workplace training and professional credentials to a college education,” she said. 

The needs of adult learners vary when compared to the traditional student population with factors such as dedicated time for studying and attending classes coupled with shifting personal and professional responsibilities often making it difficult for adult learners to complete their higher education plans. TESU’s flexible class schedule and online delivery model allows its students to learn at their own pace. “The main difference between adult learners and traditional students is the issue of time and other responsibilities. Adult learners typically have family and professional (work) responsibilities that limit the amount of time they can devote to education and significantly limit their ability to travel to a particular location at a particular time to receive instruction,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Dennis Devery told Invest:. “Adult learners benefit from flexible instructional and support service schedules as well as asynchronous instruction provided in an online format. TESU is very successful with adult learners because we meet these needs,” he said.  

With these varying needs in mind, TESU’s Strategic Partnerships program brings together high-quality educational programs to develop industry specific solutions aimed at fostering the success of the students and partnering organizations. “An organization’s ability to attract and retain top talent will be a critical element as we reassimilate into the work environment post-COVID. Having the ability to customize degrees and certificates to an organization’s needs while meeting the professional growth needs of its employees will be a necessary factor in that attraction and retention process,” Parlante-Givas said. 

The focus on equity, diversity and inclusion coupled with the drive to help adult learners in underserved communities remains as important as ever in today’s landscape. “Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion into curriculum is essential when customizing degree and certificate programs. In its effort to provide access and opportunity to the largest and most diverse population of possible students, TESU works collaboratively with our partnerships to have congruent alignment while reaching diverse groups of students,” Parlante-Givas added. 

Maximizing past work experience and applying that knowledge to a degree program or certificate is a key differentiator of TESU’s education model. “TESU also assesses prior learning by overseeing formal evaluations of courses, licenses, certifications, apprenticeship, and exams offered by corporations, government agencies, labor unions, and professional associations. Students can apply these approved prior-learning credits toward their degree at Thomas Edison State University, which can often be completed in less time than at other institutions,” Parlante-Givas said. 

While no stranger to online education, the pandemic-led move to remote instruction is expected to continue to create opportunities for TESU students and staff. “I see online education becoming more accepted as an option for instruction going forward. I think faculty and administrators will look for ways to use online instruction to meet the needs of students. I think the quality and utilization of online instruction and online student support services will increase significantly in the coming years,” Devery said. 

In an increasingly digital world, student support will continue to be a major component of successful online education delivery. “Post-COVID student support strategies will likely involve more online support services. Many universities have seen the benefit of providing online support to students via Zoom and other systems. Busy students can make appointments that they would have missed if they had to drive to campus or come to a specific office on campus. Additionally, the pandemic has demonstrated that tiered support based on student need is the best practice. Resources should be distributed based on student need, with students at greater risk getting more support in formats that meet their needs,” Devery said. 

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