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Skilled Talent

How Higher Education is Changing in Central Ohio

The Denison Edge is equipping the next generation of students to succeed in the workplace through immersive career preparation.

Aug 3, 2021 // By Tammy Palasigue
Higher Education in the Columbus Region

Attend college for four years. Study a subject matter. Get a degree. Find a job.

The traditional career path was relatively unchanged until the last decade when workplace requirements evolved ever-faster and companies began demanding skills that couldn’t be obtained in the classroom. 

Now, businesses are placing higher values on workforce experiences and other life skills as they search for workers that aren’t just book-smart but have had hands-on, immersive experiences that can translate into workplace success. In fact, a study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities found that 93% of executives and 94% of hiring managers are more likely to hire a candidate if they had an internship with a company. A separate study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that nearly 91% of employers prefer candidates that have real-world experience.

Meanwhile, college students are increasingly expecting their alma mater to help provide the tools, techniques, and support needed to thrive in today’s workforce and workplace. In a Spring 2021 survey of 3,052 students, Top Hat found that students want more value from their education investment, with 85% valuing regular feedback from instructors and 79% looking for opportunities to develop transferable skills.  

Enter the Denison Edge

The Columbus Region’s Denison Edge (an extension of the college’s Austin E. Knowlton Center) is equipping the next generation of students to succeed in the workplace through immersive career preparation. Instead of the short-sighted vision of simply finding a job, liberal arts students at the Launch Lab develop long-term career paths with mentors and trusted advisors.

The Edge offers a four-pillared framework for success. First, students are asked to do a self-assessment, or Journey, that looks at their chosen major, their personal strengths and weaknesses, and how they might align in relation to a particular profession. Students are then taught both hard and soft business skills, as well as the technical and data skills fundamental to their field. Next, they receive hands-on experience through sponsored projects, mini, full, and remote internships. Finally, students build lifetime connections through peer and alumni networks and Launch Lab staff.

By pairing introspection with specialized training, the Denison Edge has created a reliable system for producing candidates with the essential business skills that companies are looking for from the talented workforce our region offers.

Partnering with the Community for Mutual Benefit

Steeped in the collaborative spirit that the Columbus Region is known for, the Denison Edge has strong connections throughout Central Ohio, including an advisory board of executives from COSI, Fifth Third Private Bank, Meriwether Group, Wendy’s International, Nike Marketplace Partners, Travelocity, and Kayak.

“Our proximity to Columbus and our relationships with the vast network of businesses and civic organizations is a major part of the Denison difference,” said Hank Malin, executive director for the Knowlton Center. “Setting the Launch Lab downtown even more directly connects students to the power of that network.”

And the Edge is not alone. The Ohio State University’s Digital Flagship program is another university-wide initiative that provides students with the hard and soft skills necessary for today’s modern, mobile, technology-driven workforce. In fact, many of the Columbus Region’s 52 colleges and universities are replacing cookie-cutter programs with tools that help students design their own individualized career roadmap and meet the new worforce demands of industry, from manufacturing and robotics to logistics and automation.

The Columbus Region’s colleges and universities produce 22,000 annual graduates and we have some of the most sophisticated workforce development programs in the U.S. Contact us today if you are an aspiring professional considering a move to the region, or a business looking for the right talent to power your next operation.


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