Towards a New Understanding of Labor Market Alignment

  • Jennifer Lenahan ClearyEmail author
  • Monica Reid Kerrigan
  • Michelle Van Noy
Part of the Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research book series (HATR, volume 32)


This chapter offers a new way to look at an issue with deep roots in higher education: the alignment of college education with labor market needs. The authors explore varied aspects of the scholarly literature to shed light on the history of higher education—labor market alignment (LMA) efforts, its driving forces, and the theoretical perspectives surrounding and shaping its understanding today. While policy stakeholders propose one-size-fits-all LMA approaches for higher education that often threaten other college missions, the authors’ perspective is that the process of LMA requires, by its nature, a negotiation among competing stakeholders. Rather than a feat of engineering, LMA is better understood, they propose, as an organizational learning process through which stakeholders (e.g. employers, students, higher education institutions, and others) form unique goals and processes that fit the needs of the group. This chapter stresses the importance of LMA for improving student success measures in a time of increasing income inequality and other economic pressures. It outlines the many options higher education institutions have to pursue LMA in curricular and co-curricular areas, discusses multiple ways to measure LMA, and concludes with recommendations for policy and practice.


Labor market alignment Labor market responsiveness Labor market and higher education Job market Vocationalism Workforce development 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Lenahan Cleary
    • 1
    Email author
  • Monica Reid Kerrigan
    • 2
  • Michelle Van Noy
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityPiscatawayUSA
  2. 2.Rowan UniversityGlassboroUSA

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