In a Nutshell: The value of a college degree is largely based on the outcomes for students, including what job they get and how quickly they can see ROI on their student loans. Emsi Burning Glass is dedicated to helping institutions and students make value-driven decisions about education. The organization’s economic models help schools tailor their curriculum to industries with high-growth, high-paying jobs. Emsi Burning Glass also helps colleges and universities introduce students to new career paths by matching their skills and interests with relevant programs they may not have considered.
A college degree’s value is often tied to the job market students enter after graduation. That’s why students often seek an education that will prepare them for in-demand career paths. They don’t want to train for jobs in industries that will dry up in a few years, and they certainly don’t want to take on costly student loans without seeing some ROI.
Colleges and universities need to offer the classes students want to remain competitive. That’s why they need to stay informed on the current economic data, technology’s effects on trades and the job market, and other trends and events that impact demand for any given profession.
That task is highly complex and accomplishing it is more than a single institution can handle on its own. That’s why many colleges and universities turn to Emsi Burning Glass, which provides labor market data and other robust tools to help academic institutions and students make informed decisions.
The firm initially focused on impact modeling, but Emsi Burning Glass offerings also hold value as curriculum planning tools. Emsi Burning Glass’s information can help students choose a career that offers higher returns on the time and money they’ve spent in college.
“We still do impact studies, but a lot more working with institutions to help them understand the labor market so they can make program decisions,” said Remie Verougstraete, Senior Writer and Strategist in Higher Ed at Emsi Burning Glass. “We equip institutions to provide that same information so that students coming in can make decisions about what they want to pursue.”
Data Informs Educational Choices for Schools and Students
Emsi Burning Glass’s models provide an array of actionable data to institutions, including industry and occupation growth projections by region, with national average comparisons. Courses that prepare students for high-growth and high-wage jobs benefit both students and colleges.
“That’s the kind of data institutions are looking for because they want to ensure the programs they’re offering are going to be a pipeline to opportunities for students,” Verougstraete said. “That’s going to make that college investment worthwhile for the learner.”
Emsi Burning Glass also provides more granular data, including job posting analytics like which employers are hiring, what job titles they’re seeking to fill, and the particular skills those jobs require. This information allows schools to make more precise curriculum decisions to benefit their students.
Of course, those benefits must be measured, and Emsi Burning Glass helps schools track student professional outcomes as well. Information includes what fields graduates enter, their estimated earnings, and other jobs they go on to hold. That allows schools to measure the quality of their programs, and it helps steer students to jobs that can help them pay off their student loans.
“If this is the kind of employer a prospective student wants to work for and the kind of work they want to do, it can be really powerful for them to see that graduates from your program are working in those jobs,” Verougstraete said. “So for colleges and universities, being able to track and understand those outcomes is increasingly important for that very reason.”
Outcome-Focused Education Offers Higher Tuition ROI
One way to assess student outcomes is through academic standards. That includes how much students learn and how their depth of knowledge compares to that of other students from other programs.
However, as college tuition and student loans become increasingly expensive, outcomes must also be measured by the market standards.
It’s not enough for graduates to find a job that can support them, their families, and a certain standard of living. Now, that job must also pay enough to settle their student loan debt.
“For that return on investment to make sense for the student, their education needs to provide at least a basic level of career readiness,” Verougstraete said. “So, institutions need to consider the question: ‘Are our programs equipping students to find work?’”
Better education increases their chances to compete in the job market with other professionals. That’s why the value of their education is effectively measured by the quality of the life they can lead after graduating.
That is measured not only by income but by the meaningfulness of the job itself.
“That relevance piece is something that we help institutions understand,” Verougstraete said. “It’s about aligning with needs, not just so the student can get a bigger paycheck. That is important, but it’s also about equipping students with the skills and the knowledge they need to do work that is fulfilling. That’s what we’re talking about.”
Skill and Career Tools Help Students Set Future Goals
To help students understand the lucrative benefits and personal rewards of various professions, Emsi Burning Glass offers a pair of valuable tools. The first, SkillsMatch, helps students inventory the skills they have, clarify the skills they need for in-demand jobs, and find courses at their institution that can fill the gap.
Another tool, Career Coach, also integrates with the institution’s roster of programs. It helps students navigate, investigate, and understand all of their choices. That can help students chart a clear path toward their career goals.
Exploration is critical because college-age students may not know some professions exist. Career Coach helps them expand the scope of their life planning and discover majors and careers that could be the perfect fit for both their financial and professional life goals.
“It can expand students’ horizons and help them make, hopefully, a better decision about what to study,” Verougstraete said.
Some institutions even share the data from Emsi Burning Glass’s internal-facing research tools with their students.
“I have spoken with people at institutions who had access to that tool, and students come into their offices, and they’ll go over the data right there with them,” Verougstraete said. “I’ve seen schools create flyers and fact sheets. Some schools put the data directly onto their academic program pages, which we think is awesome because then students are browsing and exploring.”
Economic Models for Personal and Community Growth
“We are committed to helping institutions make better decisions about the programs that they’re offering. And the students make better decisions about their education and career pathways,” Verougstraete said. “All of that connects. And so it becomes a matter of economic prosperity for the entire community.”
That is especially true in education deserts where higher education institutions may not have a significant presence. Emsi Burning Glass data can help existing institutions identify the resources and skills those communities and local economies need to prosper. It can also help other institutions start working to meet those needs.
In both cases, targeted education leads to workers who can fill vital roles and entrepreneurs who drive development and growth. Both of those outcomes lead to increased prosperity for communities and new opportunities for students and graduates. That is, in broad strokes, Emsi Burning Glass’s long-term goal.
“As we continue to grow, we’re looking forward to serving more colleges and universities, so they can serve more students,” Verougstraete said. “The possibilities are exciting.”