I recently had the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas with Penn Foster to attend the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) 2014 Annual Convention & Expo. This annual conference brings together over 1,500 attendees from private sector schools to focus on innovations and the future of higher education. I came away with 3 major learnings that were prevalent throughout the show:
- Results and Accountability Matter –The Gainful Employment Legislation was perhaps the most discussed topic throughout the conference. It’s clear that colleges will be expected to show positive results for graduate job placement and job retention in the future. This is an issue which usually puts private sector colleges under the microscope, but in reality, all post-secondary schools should be placed under the same scrutiny. Students pursue post-secondary education for the opportunities (i.e. jobs) they will obtain upon graduation, so at the end of the day it’s the responsibility of the post-secondary institutions to provide the level of education that will lead to these opportunities.
- The Importance of Career-Focused Education – Scanning the attendee list and walking about the exhibit hall, one could easily see that the vast majority of the schools in attendance were career schools. These schools are able to help meet the need for quality workers as well respected jobs – a demand that the public sector is unable to fill. The importance of these career-focused schools cannot be overstated: with over 12 million individuals unemployed and nearly 4 million jobs unfilled, this middle skills gap demonstrates the importance that these private sector schools play in career-focused education.
- Multichannel Delivery is Key – Today’s student lives a hectic life with multiple responsibilities and is not able to dedicate their life completely to school. Therefore, it is important now more than ever for schools to be able to engage the student and deliver the coursework outside of the traditional classroom setting. Touring the exhibit hall, it was exciting to see the number of vendors touting new and innovative products that fit the learning needs of these students.
Did you attend the APSCU Conference? What were your key takeaways?