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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

Our current education system speaks to traditional in-class learning. But there are truly many ways to learn. From corporations onboarding new employees with online training, to YouTube how-to videos, to motivated learners taking at-home courses in their spare time, forms of education take on many shapes, and online learning has offered new spaces for students to learn. The area of online education continues to grow and mature, but unfortunately, it still has some antiquated legislation to overcome before alternative education can be a viable and accessible solution for students across our nation's school districts.
Penn Foster has a very unique position within the Education sector as we straddle the intersection between traditional online degree-granting programs and career-focused training for the middle-skilled worker. Lately, we've been hearing lots of buzz about "demand-driven workforce development' across multiple sectors: non-governmental organizations, youth organizations, and corporate social responsibility initiatives within the private sector. Given that we are currently living through a major transformative era in the way the world learns - education's "Internet moment' so to speak - we are curious to know what the implications will be for demand-driven workforce development initiatives.
There are 4.8 million undergraduate students currently enrolled in the U.S. who are also parents, representing 26 percent of all undergraduates, according to a 2014 report from the Institute for Women's Policy Research.1 In serving this growing student group, career colleges - known to offer increased schedule flexibility - have an advantage over traditional higher education institutions. Though student parents tend to have a greater appreciation for the opportunities that higher education provides, balancing parenting responsibilities often proves too stressful to make going back to school a viable option.
Talent shortage is the biggest hiring challenge today. In a recent Harris Poll of 515 U.S. human resources and business managers conducted for Glassdoor, 48 percent of respondents said they are unable to  find enough qualified candidates to fill open positions, and 26 percent of respondents anticipate this to become a larger problem in the coming months.1 In the face of this challenge, many employers are devoting even more resources to talent searches, assuming that finding the perfect candidate will deliver better ROI than developing existing the skills of existing employees.
Last week, GradNation of America's Promise Alliance released a new report titled Don't Quit on Me: What Young People Who Left School Say About the Power of Relationships. As a follow up report to last year's Don't Call Them Dropouts, this new study focuses on the importance of the strength, number, and nurture of relationships students have throughout high school, and how it affects their choice to stay in school. Gathered from the perspectives of young people themselves, the report found that relationships are cornerstone to a student's success in high school, and that it is pivotal that individuals, schools, and communities focus on connecting students with mentors who can provide students with a web of support and resources they need to succeed.
The state of Indiana is moving forward with a big proposal for its high schools. Stakeholders across the state have come together to propose meaningful changes in order to invest in its students and future generation of workforce talent.
Many nonprofits and youth organizations help students who are at risk of not being able to continue their education because of financial hardship or other circumstances, such as a lack of child care or mentoring support. While these organizations are motivated by diverse causes, they share a common goal: to help students complete their education. With this shared vision, these nonprofits work together and with other partners to promote student success.
"English language learners are the fastest-growing student population group in our schools. Providing them with high-quality services and programs is an important investment in America's future." " Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association
The future of learning is blended. The U.S. Department of Education agrees, citing 11 studies that suggest students in online or blended learning environments outperform those in traditional face-to-face classrooms.1 The blended learning model - a hybrid of face-to-face instruction with online learning - is better-suited to meet the needs of today's career college students. Let's look at five ways blended learning can help your career college improve student performance.
Since the 2013 State of the Union address, the Department of Education has renewed emphasis on programs that prepare students with the skills employers demand, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math.1 The department's 2015 budget reflects this priority, with $170 million earmarked for programs that prepare students for STEM-related careers.2 While this policy is new, the principle is not. Promoting career skills has been the mission of Penn Foster for over a century, ever since Thomas J. Foster opened a correspondence school to teach mining engineering to mine workers in 1890.

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