Higher Education Labor Market Alignment Framework

Higher education’s role in preparing students for work has increasingly been a concern among policymakers, employers, and the public at large. With rising costs of education and concerns about students’ ability to transition into meaningful careers, aligning higher education with the labor market to help students access good jobs is critically important, particularly for low and middle income students. Yet, this concept of labor market alignment (LMA) for higher education is not clearly understood. What would this look like for higher education? How do leaders balance it with other aims in higher education? As policymakers often describe LMA – it often sounds like little more than a feat of engineering – similar to setting two pipes together to ensure a continuous flow of water. However, that there are a diversity of definitions and approaches that help higher education institutions respond to the needs of students and employers within the boundaries of their own educational missions. Additional research on key LMA practices that help students balance financial and other life goals after graduation is critical, but a lack of a common framework and language to discuss LMA concepts presents obstacles. This research, based on a review of multiple areas of scholarly literature, proposes a working definition, key concepts, and guiding principles for LMA. We also pose additional questions that are essential to move the field ahead. This work is designed to inform ongoing LMA research, policy, and implementation efforts. 

View the book chapter, "Towards a New Understanding of Labor Market Alignment", part of the Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research book series (HATR, volume 32)

View the issue brief