Career Insight

How College Alternatives Focus on Job Readiness

job readiness

More than just a buzzword, job readiness is the secret sauce to thriving in a career.

Last week, we discussed the importance of job readiness in higher education programs. This week, we’re dissecting the ways college alternatives are a step ahead when it comes to making learners job-ready.

At Kenzie Academy, our learners develop soft skills while also learning technical skills with an emphasis on practice over theory. We’re teaching toward the expanding field of new collar jobs and ushering in the future of work.

Here’s how Kenzie and college alternatives, in general, are preparing learners to be job-ready.

Training for New Collar Jobs

New collar jobs are already changing the landscape of the working world. The term was originally coined by IBM CEO Ginni Rometty in 2016. New collar work refers to highly specialized positions that require vocational and soft skill training, as opposed to traditional, 4-year degrees. These positions can be in any field but are usually in the technology, agriculture, or health care industries. Many college alternatives are centered around these industries, making students job-ready for a changing and increasingly competitive job market.

Shortening Program Lengths 

College alternatives are often shorter than traditional bachelor’s or master’s degree programs. Due to their condensed format, the curriculum content is centered on the most important technical and soft skills needed to prepare students for the realities of the job market. Unlike traditional programs, college alternatives don’t come with superfluous general education or liberal arts requirements. This means you can get certified to work in the career of your dreams for a fraction of the cost and time. Talk about maximizing your education!

When you’re looking at programs, be sure that the program you choose isn’t too short, as many 90-day and 6-month programs don’t provide enough time to truly grasp the material. Our program is 12 months and strikes a perfect balance between bootcamps and traditional college. It’s long enough that learners actually have time to learn how to code, instead of just learning how to memorize.

Emphasizing Soft Skills 

There are loads of soft skills and you can never stop improving your arsenal. They all fall under 6 main categories: communication, critical thinking, leadership, positive attitude, teamwork, and work ethic. Many vocational and career readiness programs help students perfect their skills in these areas via mock interviews and networking at special events and workshops.

With the employer partners many college alternatives boast, students are able to hone their soft skills while getting acquainted with the movers and shakers in their respective fields, putting them a step ahead of their traditional degree peers. These programs encourage independence while also providing a safe space to test on-the-job skills. Tech schools also teach soft skills like collaboration through group projects and presentations. Kenzie’s curriculum trains learners in hands-on tech skills with an added focus on teamwork and collaboration.

Program length still plays a role in how well a college alternative will help you sharpen your skills. The rushed timeline of 90-day and 6-month bootcamps just doesn’t give you enough time to learn proper soft skill training. When you’re researching programs, be sure to take this into account and ask each program about if and how they teach soft skills.

Prioritizing Practice over Theory 

According to Gallup, only 34% of college students think they’ll graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in the job market. College alternatives are looking to change this by prioritizing practice over theory – focusing on outcomes and graduating students who are truly job-ready. College alternatives are accomplishing this through experiential learning curriculum and/or internship and apprenticeship requirements.

At Kenzie, we take the fluff out of higher education as learners are given 12 months of project-based learning. Our classes mimic a startup or small tech company setting so throughout the course of the program, learners gain valuable work experience and graduate with several completed projects to showcase to future employers.

In our Software Engineering program, learners become junior full-stack developers through 6 months of coding in front-end and back-end, respectively. Our UX Engineering learners conduct user research, create wireframes and mockups and also spend 6 months with a hands-on front-end curriculum, all while receiving regular feedback from subject matter experts and peers on their work. When we call our learners #KenzieMade, believe us when we say they’ve earned it!

Ready to jumpstart your career as a UX Designer or Coder? Learn more about our 12-month Software Engineering and UX design programs, or check out our free beginner’s coding program Kenzie Free.

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