Higher Education and Human Resources

Davenport delivers job guarantee

Building the program involved input from 95 employers on what to include.

August 22, 2014
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A university is standing behind its programs with the introduction of an employment guarantee program this fall that fosters student effectiveness in their chosen field.

Davenport University, which offers programs focused on business, health and technology, announced Aug. 20 it was introducing an employment guarantee pilot program to help students land a job in their chosen field.

Shelley Lowe, executive director of career services at Davenport, said the program demonstrates the strength of the school’s programs and effectiveness of students through criteria developed in collaboration with various industry employers.

“It is an endorsement internally, to the public, to the potential students and to existing students that we really do have strong employable programs, that we are getting students where the world is going,” said Lowe. “Our programs are relevant today, and if they do the right things while they are in school, they are going to be the most employable people in the job market — and we are standing behind that.”

To develop the criteria students need to follow in the program, Lowe said the university reached out to the roughly 95 employers on its career services advisory board to identify the sought-after critical skills or experiences in potential employees.

“When we started building this, those 95 employers, both large public organizations and small privately owned organizations, gave us input on what they wanted to see included in this,” said Lowe. “Our employers said, ‘This is what we need to see from people coming out of college today — any college.’”

Eligible students are required to meet multiple criteria, ranging from a 3.0 grade point average, and involvement in professional or student organizations, to maintaining a good financial standing with the university.

Other criteria include: being legally eligible to work in the United States; having a willingness to relocate or travel to a new market; having completed an internship or work study employment; having worked with career services within two semesters of attending Davenport; and having no criminal background hindering employment in the chosen field.

“They can’t have a criminal background that supersedes their ability to work in the field,” said Lowe. “For example, we are piloting this out to our accounting students, so a student with embezzlement in their background that we don’t know about would supersede their ability to take a position in accounting.”

Davenport will introduce the pilot program this fall to more than 400 students within the accounting program. Although the guarantee will eventually apply to all students at Davenport, Lowe said the pilot program will enable the university to evaluate its record keeping and consistency of progress reporting to students each semester.

“This will allow us to test the entire process,” said Lowe. “Part of the program is to remind them every semester ‘here is what you have accomplished’ — kind of like LinkedIn when you see your profile. It is a way to engage students at all levels of their degree program with all of the departments they might come into contact with.”

Upon graduation, students who are eligible for the employment guarantee and have not found employment after six months will be provided additional education benefits to help them meet the needs in the market. After an evaluation of student development, the university will cover tuition to enhance the student’s existing degree.

“They basically get three additional semesters of up to 16 credits per semester of additional bachelor degree level training,” said Lowe. “For example, our accounting students may need some finance background to strengthen their marketability, or they may need some kind of technology background that helps them forensic audit better. It is about a $30,000 value.”

The employment guarantee program is part of Davenport’s 2015 strategic plan to have graduates guaranteed a job in their chosen field based on the university’s understanding of the needs of employers and its commitment to preparing students for jobs. It is not only a way to keep students supported, reminded and aware of resources at the university, but also to provide students with the skills ensuring their high marketability, according to Lowe.

“We have employers who demand our students, who post jobs with us regularly because they have gotten our students before and they want that quality again,” said Lowe. “We feel really confident that if the students do their part (and) our programs have done their part, they will be educated to the needs of the employers in the market today.”

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