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In an increasingly digital world, demand for educated, qualified youth adept in both in content knowledge and “21st century skills” has steadily increased. At the same time, the growing working-age youth population among emerging economies is proving to be one of the most significant drivers of change for the coming industrial revolution. These emerging trends, coupled with the prospects of disruptive technologies on the world of work, are creating an urgent need for a more qualified and better equipped entry-level workforce. At the same time, education institutions have struggled to meet this shifting industry demand, and are in fact, further challenged as the profile of relevant core skills needed for tomorrow’s workforce is shifting.
To address this gap between the talent pipeline that education institutions produce and the one that employers need, the J. P. Morgan Chase-funded Accelerating Work Achievement Readiness for Employability (AWARE 2) project is piloting a new tool to link measures deemed important for employers to student achievement outcomes. The Employee Quality Index (EQI) targets employers vested in thriving in the digital economy and aims to systematically measure employee performance with the goal of aligning student performance measures in secondary schools with these industry metrics in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Currently in its final year, the AWARE 2 project helps schools to better prepare future-ready workers who meet employer demands. In doing so, it takes a collective impact approach by bringing together leading industry partners, local government leadership, and educators to equip secondary students for success in the digital economy.
This paper will lay out a conceptual framework developed based on secondary research as well as primary data collected from industry partners to develop a cogent set of key performance metrics for entry-level employees valued across the sector. The paper will also describe the development and piloting of the tool, along with preliminary findings. Finally, the paper will propose recommendations and plans for how education institutions may interpret and incorporate the findings among its student achievement measures, with an aim to align learning outcomes to the real performance measures that employers most need and value. Since the AWARE 2 project works across these oft-disparate stakeholders, it generates a viable pathway for employers, educators and project staff to consider implications and realistic application of the findings within existing vehicles to better equip students for tomorrow’s workforce today.