In summer 2020, more than 70% of prospective adult learners felt that their current or future employment outlook was negatively impacted by the pandemic, according to research by EAB. With so much personal and financial upheaval, adult learners are considering their options and evaluating how higher education can help them change careers, gain stability, or advance in their current job. SMU’s Office of Global, Online and Continuing Education is committed to meeting the needs of these learners, serving our community, and bolstering the economy in uncertain times.
Career-focused adult learners seek academic programs that tie to specific job outcomes. These outcomes vary based on major industries, as well as regional and national trends. What’s more, to attract adult learners, continuing and professional education programs must be designed with flexibility in mind and with an emphasis on customer service. These qualities help ease adult learners back into the classroom, whether on-campus or online.
To serve our community, it is important to determine what employers in our market require to fill existing and projected workforce gaps. Throughout summer 2021 the Office of Global, Online and Continuing Education brought together leaders across transportation, banking, energy, real estate, IT, and other industries in a series of forums to discuss where gaps exist in their organizations and identify potential solutions. Out of these discussions, we’re forming a new approach to working with industry to identify and build programs that meet the needs of their current and future workforce. We look forward to sharing more with the university community about that initiative in the coming months.