Employers Think College Grads Are Not Prepared for the Workplace

People go to college for an education and experience that will prepare them to start a career. However, according to the results of a survey commissioned by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), many employers feel that colleges and universities are not adequately preparing students to enter into the workplace.

FTI Consulting, from November 15-19 this year, conducted the online survey of 1,006 professionals in charge of hiring for companies covering a wide range of industries. The findings show that only 16% of the employers that participated in the survey believe that graduates are fully prepared, both in knowledge and skills, for the job they are applying for, which means 84% say these applicants are underprepared. When asked if they thought the higher education system was doing an excellent job of affording students with the knowledge and skills they need to enter into the workplace, only 7% said yes.

One portion of the survey asked the employers to compare the stated importance to the applicant’s performance of the following 11 skills: interpersonal skills, teamwork, problem solving, job-specific knowledge, written communication skills, work experience, technical ability, education, professional references, business savvy, and math capability. The comparison showed that applicant performance was below the stated importance of every one of the 11 skills in question. For example, on a 10-point scale, teamwork was given an importance rating of 8.3. However, the study revealed that teamwork performance was only 6.7. The same comparison was made involving "future skills," such as cross-cultural competency and virtual collaboration. The results were the same — under-performance in every category — revealing that applicants will need to be retrained to be able to compete for a position in the near future.

According to the ACICS, "After the research presentation, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC), Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, delivered a keynote address focused on the role of post-secondary education in preparing students for the skills that employers need most."

The surprising and disappointing results of this survey reveal that employers believe colleges and universities across the country are not doing their part in equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to begin a career, making it apparent that the requirements to graduate do not match the requirements to enter into the workplace.

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