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The perception of online education is changing. Seen for many years as the poor relation of brick-and-mortar institutions, online education is rapidly gaining respect. According to the 2013 Survey of Online Learning, perceptions of online education dramatically changed during the previous decade. Indeed, the proportion of academic leaders rating online courses as offering the same or superior learning outcomes as face-to-face tuition has now risen from 57 percent to 74 percent.
When you are looking to fill a position in your company, what criteria do you use to inform your hiring decisions? If you set requirements that are too exacting, such as requiring a specific degree or a certain number of years' experience, you could exclude some candidates who could have been a great fit for your organization. Let's take a look at the benefits of looking at potential rather than credentials when hiring new employees.
As workforce investment boards, youth organizations, and staffing companies look to provide job seekers with training in in-demand careers, one occupation that has been emerging recently is virtual assistant. As a whole, the market for administrative assistance is expected to reach over 2 million positions by 2024, creating over 300,000 new jobs.1 With today's digital world making it commonplace to work remotely, and may small and medium size businesses looking to outsource certain administrative functions, expect many of these new positions to be filled by Virtual Assistance. Likewise, one report estimated the total market for online working, which includes virtual assistants, will eclipse $5 billion by 2018.2
Entry-level job seekers are frequently struggling with in-person interviews. The cognitive skills they learned throughout their education may get them in front of a hiring manager, but employers are also demanding soft skills. Both parties end up wasting time and resources due to these mismatches, but there are ways to close this loop.
With the advent of increased automation and high-tech manufacturing tools, revolutionary ways of doing work have begun to bridge the collegiate and blue collar divide. Plant managers and manufacturing business owners need workers with specific skills to fill integral positions. Consequently, employers are becoming increasingly focused on training their current staff to fill these roles and urging candidates to take courses that certify them for modern, tech-heavy work. 
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Blended learning is the combination of traditional classroom education and digital elements, such as interactive applications on a laptop or online homework and reading. Many schools are embracing technology to promote learning. One area where technology performs particularly well is improving English language learner and low-income student outcomes.
We know that in order to fill the skills gap, a fundamental paradigm shift needs to occur across the workforce development marketplace. Instead of a well-oiled machine working to train job seekers, our current system is fragmented and lagging. But how do we get buy-in from all stakeholders to participate in working towards a new solution? How can we foster local employment market opportunities and fill specific sector needs?
Millennials now make up more than one-third of the workforce in the United States, surpassing both the baby boomers and generation X.1 Millennials are like no generation before them, and they are playing a pivotal role in reshaping the workplace environment and expectations. One major benefit that millennials are looking for from their employers is continuous training and development.
Penn Foster is happy to be returning to the 2017 NSBA Annual Convention and Exposition for another year. Held from March 26th - 27th in Denver, CO, this national event brings together education leaders at a time when domestic policies and global trends are combining to shape the future of the American learner.

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