The University of Arizona

Bridging the Gap Between College and Workforce

According to a 2015 survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges & Universities, only 37 percent of employers believed that recent college graduates were well-prepared with current technologies.

In an effort to bridge this technical skills gap between college and the workforce, Student Engagement & Career Development recently launched two skill-building programs, Fast Track: Digital Marketing and Fast Track: Adobe Creative Cloud, which is in partnership with the Office of Digital Learning

With the summer pilots concluding this past week, we caught up with Jessica Litvack, Senior Coordinator, Student Engagement & Career Development to talk about the early success of Fast Track and plans in the near future. 

For those that are unfamiliar, could you give us a quick summary of what Fast Track is?

Jessica: Of course. Fast Track is an online program that aims to teach students the technical skills they need to be successful in the workforce, including how to use Excel, and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Critically, students receive hands-on training and interact with real employers to collaborate on projects in the program. As a result, our students are learning the exact skills employers are looking for and have the opportunity to secure internships and starting positions with their companies.

Is this program open to all students, or just business and marketing students?

Jessica: One of the best parts of Fast Track is that it’s open to all students, regardless of major or GPA. You don’t have to be a marketing major to learn valuable, workforce-ready skills in Digital Marketing. That’s what this program is all about.

I’ve noticed that lately, employers aren’t just looking for these skills on a resume, they also want evidence that students have truly mastered these skills.

 Jessica: This is something we’ve noticed as well and it’s a big part of what makes Fast Track unique. Upon completion of their curriculum and final project, our students are awarded a digital badge that certifies they’ve mastered a technical skill such as how to use Adobe Creative Cloud. Students can place these badges on their LinkedIn profile, differentiating themselves from their peers and showing employers they’re ready to succeed in the work place from day one.

You just wrapped up your first cohort of Fast Track: Digital Marketing and Fast Track: Adobe Creative Cloud last week. What kind of feedback have you received from students and employers?

Jessica: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from both sides. Our students have produced some amazing projects and campaigns that will further their career success and the success of the companies they’ve worked with. For example, our students in the Fast Track: Adobe Creative Cloud program collaborated with UA Online to produce brochures and videos that will help UA Online expand educational access to more students around the world.

What’s next for Fast Track in the near future? Are there any plans to expand?

Jessica: This summer, Digital Marketing and Adobe Creative Cloud met capacity quickly. We’re planning to offer these programs again in the Fall and Spring semesters and our waitlists are already filling up.

Currently, our office is working to expand capacity and scale the curriculum for more students. We’re also reaching out to colleges to learn what technical skills our students need.

We will also continue to grow our Build the Skill program, which aims to help students gain the soft skills employers seek in recent graduates entering the workforce. These skills include the ability to work with others, communicate effectively, and lead a team.

I’m excited by the progress we’ve made thus far and even more excited to provide our students with more engagement opportunities to maximize and personalize college learning and career success!  

Stay tuned to the SAEM/AISS blog this Monday to learn more about the Fast Track program from a students' experience.