Innovation Conference Academic Track

Colleges and Employers: A Partnership as Sweet as Ben & Jerry’s – Building a Cooperative Education Program

Are you an employer looking for a way to bring fresh young talent into your workplace? Are you a student who would like to graduate with a diploma and a resumé with up to one full year of workplace experience? Penn State Schuylkill Co-Op is a win-win partnership with employers dedicated to bringing the classroom and workplace together in some of the most sought-after areas! In this session, we will discuss the benefits of cooperative education for students, employers, and the regional workforce.

Dr. Patrick M. Jones

Professor of Music and Chancellor of
Penn State Schuylkill

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Kate S. Zimmerman

Director of Cooperative Education
Penn State Schuylkill

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The Language of Water 

Researchers from Misericordia University are translating the science of local water quality monitoring into practical steps to help land owners ”hear” what their wetlands are telling them. Through different programs, including remote real-time monitoring of a pristine wetlands area and monthly monitoring in a lake and stream ecosystem, researchers are working to educate community members about the importance of clean watersheds. And, as an added bonus, undergraduate students gain valuable experience working side-by-side with experienced faculty as part of the University’s Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, an excellent preparation for graduate school or to enter the workforce. Business leaders, educators and students can learn more about this practical research and progressive learning model to identify ways to partner with and participate in these educational experiences.

Cosima Wiese

Professor in Biology Department  at Misericordia University

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The Struggle in the Hiring Process Is Real

Employers struggle to find the best candidate for a job because of friction in the hiring process. Hiring friction results from complexities with conveying information about skills.  Conveying knowledge about a skill is difficult because of lacking standards for skillsets, variations in terminology, and understanding which skills should be communicated.  Other factors not related to skills, such as resume length, grammar, and formatting issues, create additional friction in the process.  If any aspects of the resume are perceived to be incorrect, then the hiring manager discards it. On average, a hiring manager makes this analysis in under ten seconds.

The use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), automated systems commonly used to vet prospects, has further complicated the problem.  ATS use specific parameters to identify ideal candidates.  One study published in 2021 noted that 88% of employers indicated that qualified high-skill candidates were eliminated from contention because they did not meet the criteria noted in the ATS.

Ultimately, employers are not effective at advertising the skills they need, and job seekers are not good at communicating the skills they have.  Digital credentials are a mechanism that can solve hiring friction.  Digital credentials are sometimes referred to as digital certificates, digital badges, micro credentials, among other names.  These terms are generally synonymous and used interchangeably.  Digital credentials are electronic systems that verify the existence of skills. Credly, an organization that provides a digital credentialling platform, calls digital credentials a “common language of verified skills”.  Current research is attempting to determine how effectively digital credentials can reduce hiring friction.

Frank M. Sorokach

Faculty Member at Penn State

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