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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

For organizations working with Opportunity Youth, the mission is to position students for long-term employment. Obviously, the thought and work that goes into doing this is more complex than the mission statement sounds. There are a number of different philosophies for how to most effectively train and skill students. But, a common starting place is to look at the data to understand the local economy and determine which jobs and technical skills are in demand.
Recently, we've been hearing a lot of buzz over how the "non-traditional student' is quickly becoming the new norm. Mission-based organizations and career-focused education providers are taking the helm to compile and disseminate information and profiles for this burgeoning archetype. We analyzed the key insights from two 2016 surveys on the modern-day learner: Barnes & Noble College Insights platform's report "Achieving Success for Non-traditional Students: Exploring the Changing Face of Today's Student Population," and Penn Foster's survey of 100,000+ high school, college, and career school students. Below we explore the key trends illustrated from these surveys, and why it makes a lot of sense to start seriously considering their needs when building education solutions for the upcoming generation:
Last month the Penn Foster team traveled to Pasadena, CA and Austin, TX for the California Association of Private Postsecondary Schools 32nd Annual Conference in Pasadena, CA, and the Career Colleges and Schools of Texas 2016 Annual Conference in Austin, TX. At these two regional conferences, leaders in the private postsecondary education space discussed opportunities for growth and innovation in the industry. This year, the two conferences shared a common theme in their emphasis on student outcomes. New Department of Education regulations are placing an increased emphasis on job placement and retention, and schools are keen to explore sustainable avenues improve these metrics. Below we highlight several of the solutions proposed at these conferences to strengthen student outcomes:
There have been a lot of articles and opinions on our newest and highly influential employee group, the millennial. From constantly taking selfies to expecting immediate promotions, the discussion about millennials can run the gamut from the informative to the hysterical.
Flexibility, flow, and reimagining how we best deliver quality education to millennials.
Founded in 1993, National Vet Tech Week provides an opportunity to explicitly celebrate the contributions of veterinary technicians each year. Celebrated last week, the 2016 National Vet Tech Week highlighted "Veterinary Nursing in Action," speaking to the diversity of expertise required of veterinary technicians in the workplace; they are capable of offering nursing care to all manner of species. Although veterinary technicians are valued every day of the year, we joined our partners last week in honoring their commitment to compassionate, high-quality veterinary care for all animals.
Kicking off just two weeks ago, the 4th Annual Close IT Summit in Dallas, TX brought together over 500 leaders from workforce investment boards, for-purpose organizations, and employers to focus on emerging trends in workforce development. The primary topic of conversation in 2016? Competency-based education, training, and hiring.
Today's educators need to be willing to learn from the past as well as embrace the future and their students' needs. The internet gives access to insights of thousands of professionals who make their work available online. Sometimes, just a few minutes of inspiration is all that is needed to reignite your passion for teaching.
Just like every other sector and industry, the broad field of education has seen a whirlwind of adaptations, innovative advancements, and growing pains over the past few years with the advent of education technology and the modern learner. Schools are working hard to adapt to new standards set by the Department of Education, edtech companies are producing endless new ways to learn, nonprofit organizations continue to find ways to engage the at-risk learner, and employers are banding together to help address the middle skills gap. At Penn Foster, we have the unique perspective of sitting squarely between all of these players. We've witnessed myriad transformations within these spaces, as the shape of education continues to evolve to become more accessible and relevant. As we dive into Q4, we thought we'd take a look ahead and share our five projections for the top education trends for the coming year.  
Take a moment to picture a "traditional education." What does it consist of in your mind? Maybe you imagine it in terms of a timeline, with a student progressing from middle school to high school, and onto an apprenticeship or college, and then right into a career. While this is an idealized concept for receiving and education and beginning a career, there is a growing percentage of the population, particularly with youth ages 16-24, approaching education and career training in a more practical format. This new format is the stackable credentials approach.

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