A recent study conducted by National Association of Colleges and Employers in their 2018 Job Outlook Survey has found that college seniors perceive themselves as far more prepared for jobs than employers perceive recent graduates.
4,213 graduating seniors and 201 employers were surveyed on eight competencies that are considered necessary to be prepared for the everyday demands of the workplace. These competencies included Leadership, Digital Technology, Work Ethic, Oral/ Written Communication and more.
Perhaps, unsurprisingly, 89.4% of students considered themselves proficient in “Professionalism and Work Ethic,” and only 42.5% of employers felt the same. This could be in part because the typical college schedule does not mimic the 9am-5pm demands of an office job. It is also difficult for students to accurately evaluate their own professionalism having never experienced a professional setting.
Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup, a management consulting company’s higher education division, pointed out that there were discrepancies between the two surveyed groups in the understanding of the meaning of each competency. For example, according to Busteed, Gallup “found that generally an employer believes that "critical thinking" is coming up with new, original thought. But in an academic sense, it can mean more picking apart ideas in depth. “Perhaps the study is not as conclusive as it seems because of these definition discrepancies. It would helpful for each area of competency to include a brief definition of what is meant, exactly, by some of the more ambiguous categories including “Career Management” and “Global/ Intercultural Fluency”.
Knowledge and skills in real-world settings, critical thinking skills, and written and oral communication skills are “areas in which fewer than three in 10 employers think that recent college graduates are well-prepared.” Digital Technology Skills were the only area where employers were more likely than students to rate the college seniors as prepared. 66% of employers rated the students as technologically proficient, compared to 60% of seniors.
It is important to consider the possibility that as students become more adapt with digital technology, their written and oral communication suffers in correlation. Is it possible to have both skill sets flourish simultaneously?
What is thought to be the “easy solution” is to “set students up in a more professional environment,” according to Busteed. This could mean a higher prevalence internships or co-op programs. If students can't go to an actual office, perhaps the college model needs to be tweaked to more closely resemble the demands of a work place. This is an effective plan in theory, but difficult to execute. Share your thoughts below on attainable ways to lessen this gap.
How is Cengage addressing the college graduate Skills Gap conversation? Check out our Path to Employability site to find out.
Overconfident Students, Dubious Employers, 2/23/2018, Bauer-Wolf, Jeremy, Inside Higher Ed, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2018/02/23/study-students-believe-they-are-prepared-workplace-em...
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