OAKLAND, Calif. — Oct. 14, 2020 — The QA Commons today launched its Employability Self-Assessment (ESA), designed to measure and document how well institutions of higher education are preparing graduates to be successful upon graduation, and throughout their career. Results of the ESA will help college and university leaders and faculty more clearly understand the rapidly changing needs of employers, and build a culture that supports graduate employability as a priority outcome.

“Covid-19 has placed even more pressure on higher education to increase capacity of ‘soft skills’ that matter for employment, but too often institutions simply are unaware of how their programs meet this demand in real-time,” said Ralph Wolff, president and founder of The QA Commons. “The ESA helps faculty and program leaders understand how they can better infuse employability skills throughout the curriculum, and holds them accountable for teaching students the skills needed to be successful, even in a fully virtual world of work.”

A recent Strada Consumer Insights poll found that learners assess the value of their program based on the relevance to career. Meanwhile, research shows that employers need workers who demonstrate a capacity for oral and written communication, critical thinking, adaptability, analytic reasoning, and more.

“Now more than ever, higher education is critical to both expanding personal opportunity and ensuring the economic recovery of our nation,” said Dr. Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. “We must take responsibility for preparing students for current and future workforce needs. The QA Commons is a powerful ally in helping institutions and their leaders recognize how to meet this mission.”

Each collegiate program that takes the assessment will follow a powerful field-tested framework to align curricula with current employability outcomes and will be supported with resources and best practices on how to develop proficiency in each of the eight Essential Employability Qualities (EEQs). The eight EEQs are Communication, Thinking and Problem Solving, Inquiry, Collaboration, Adaptability, Learning, Principles and Ethics, and Responsibility and Professionalism.

The ESA has been piloted at 20 colleges and universities, and is now being implemented at eight institutions in the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities System: Capital Community College, Eastern Connecticut State University, Housatonic Community College, Middlesex Community College, Northwestern Connecticut Community College, Quinebaug Valley Community College, Three Rivers Community College, and Western Connecticut State University. The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education was the first organization to join The QA Commons in ensuring that an investment in higher education leads to greater employment opportunities. To date, The QA Commons has awarded an EEQ Certification to 13 collegiate programs in Kentucky.

For more information, please visit https://theqacommons.org or download the ESA one-pager here.


The QA Commons is a Lumina funded 501c3 organization striving to narrow the gap between higher education and employment and help all learners prepare for the changing world of work. By collaborating with colleges, employers, and statewide university partners (including Kentucky and Connecticut), The QA Commons delivers innovative career readiness programs and certifications for skills that graduates will need to succeed. For more information, visit theqacommons.org/.