Dallas College has planned a series of upcoming virtual career fairs that are meant to connect its students and recent graduates with employers in the region.
The stakes for students during the pandemic could not be any higher - unemployment among recent college graduates right now is nearly double what it was during the last economic downturn, the 2008 recession.
“For us, we thought, ‘Let’s look at how we can do a better job of connecting our students to careers, and connecting employers to our students,’” said Joe May, Ph.D., Chancellor of Dallas College. "We focused on how do we match students with jobs given that they’re not doing face-to-face interviews, the model that has worked throughout history.”
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The virtual career fairs are part of a larger effort that Dallas College is participating in, a nationwide task force of nearly 40 institutions of higher learning that are looking at ways to help ensure student success.
The Taskforce on Higher Education and Opportunity, made up of public, private, two-year and four-year institutions – including familiar names like Arizona State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology – will address the impact of the pandemic on students, particularly those from disadvantaged communities who have been disproportionately affected.
“When this hit, we were really concerned that individuals would not be able to continue their education, because this is not just about education; it is about their livelihood, and their future, and missing out,” May said. “For some students [the pandemic] means that they will never be able to return [to school] because of work, because of family, because of life; all the things that get in the way.”
“So our concern is, ‘What can we do to help students both navigate the barriers of this uncertainty in which we are living now during the pandemic, and see a route forward?’” May said. “What will allow them to get the knowledge, skills, and ability that they are going to need in order to get that great job and be able to meet both their needs and the needs of their family, both now and in the future?”