Fast Track (Applied Learning for In-Demand Digital + Human Skills)

The University of Arizona — Goal 1 Initiative Fast Track (Applied Learning for In-Demand Digital + Human Skills)

Fast Track will aim to address inequities in immediate career outcomes, or the time between graduation and being hired and assigned a starting salary. The initiative will benefit first-generation college graduates and members of underserved minority groups that experience income disparity in any academic discipline or career field. The initiative will also be opened to any interested student planning to graduate in majors other than Business, Engineering, Computer Science, Nursing or other career-specific majors.

Fast Track success will include increasing the number of students who graduate with specific digital and people skills in-demand in the entry level employment marketplace reflected in their resumes and college work portfolios. Additionally, Fast Track strives to decrease the time it takes to hire these students, in comparison to students uninvolved in the program. It aims to close the gap between these students' average starting salary and the starting salaries of groups of similar students who do not complete the program. Additionally, we hope that Fast Track will leave students feeling as though an additional value has been added to their degree.

We are excited to launch the FastTrack initiative which will allow students to bridge the skill gap between the classroom and the workplace by gaining in-demand skills and micro-credentials in their industry of choice. These valuable applied learning experiences will be coupled with opportunities to immediately apply newly acquired skills to authentic projects offered by employers and community organizations. This approach to real-world problem solving is in line with our commitment to prepare students to be disruptive problem solvers in the fourth industrial revolution, a skillset that will be even more critical as our graduates compete in a post-pandemic economy.

Robert Robbins, The University of Arizona

Initiative Differentiators

Fast Track will expand and enhance available skill development offerings, requiring the unique collaboration of academic leaders with career development and student engagement leaders. Ultimately, it will present a campaign to enroll students in the program and to move the conversation about degrees and jobs towards recognition that success means both granting degrees in social sciences, humanities and science that focus on disciplinary outcomes not limited by any vocational approach AND to ensuring that our graduates find support to complement those degrees with skill development. Initiative content offerings will be created in collaboration with local, state and national employers.

Key Interventions and Milestones

Fast Track will provide training in key marketable digital and people skills, applying that learning immediately to authentic projects offered by local employers or community organizations. The program will be paired with the university's Job Jumpstart career search skills program, granting students access to a network of employees and alumni for informational interviews and direct recruitment.

The first Fast Track milestone will be the institutional investment in quality training and certification programs for students, with the second milestone marked by the percentage of eligible students participating and third milestone being the percentage of participants completing all program components.

Expected Impact

Future Fast Track impact will be measured by a high percentage of program participants being employed at the time of their graduation, as compared to a similar group of non-participants. Additionally, we will monitor the percentage of program participants employed within 90 days of graduation, alongside average starting salary and overall reactions to the program's benefits.