McGraw-Hill Education’s (MHE) survey on readying college graduates for the workforce is hot off the press. With the school year just around the corner, a new crop of graduates gearing up for their job search after summer break and a robust economy, this survey is timely. In fact, for the class of 2018, 44% of employers will increase hiring of new college graduates.
Essential career readiness skills are not what you think.
MHE reports that only four in 10 college students feel very or extremely prepared for their future careers. Even though this figure is better this year than last, it is still low.
Whereby over half of college graduates surveyed believed they were well prepared for the workplace in “essential career readiness skills” like professionalism and work ethic (77%), critical thinking and problem solving (63%), and oral and written communication (61%), employers’ perception of career readiness was lower, namely (43%) for professionalism, (56%) for critical thinking and (42%) for communication. That’s divided thinking. Technical skills don’t seem to be a big issue for either students or employers. Interpersonal skills are. Only in teamwork and collaboration did college grads (73%) and employers (77%) see eye-to-eye.
It is important to note, says Susan Gouijnstook, VP of Learning Solutions Strategy at McGraw-Hill, that a gender disparity around confidence in workplace skills showed up again this year in McGraw-Hill’s Future Workforce Survey. In fact, 50% of men compared to 36% of women feel like they are “career ready.”
Where does the ball drop in providing college grads (and all young adults for that matter) with essential career readiness skills?
Whether it’s early college high schools, community colleges, apprenticeship programs, or four-year colleges everybody is stepping up to the plate. All are embarking on endeavors to facilitate the pathway from school to work. MHE’s findings have important implications across the board for America’s nascent workforce.
Assessing problem-solving abilities replaces standardized testing.
And four-year colleges are gearing up to provide their graduates with career-ready skills. MHE, explained Ms. Gouijnstook, is using survey results to inform product development and help college instructors zero in on essential career readiness skills – to “unlock the potential of each learner” – by leveraging learning science to create tools that support application of learning and authentic assessments. If you don’t know the term, authentic assessment, it’s one you should become familiar with. “Through our products, we seek to help students improve critical thinking skills, learn to communicate more effectively and perform real-world tasks through meaningful application of fundamental knowledge,” said Ms. Gouijnstook. The classroom becomes a laboratory for applied knowledge. MHE is a significant player in bringing these kinds of skills to schools and making students work ready.
Practice makes perfect.
Finally, in addressing MHE’s findings on college grad’s confidence levels, Nick Corcodilos (CEO, Ask The Headhunter) observes, “By being exposed to the workplace early, whether by internship, apprenticeship, volunteer opportunities or authentic assessment, young adults develop a clear sense of expectations and increased confidence. Experience speaks volumes.” Along these lines, just over half of all students surveyed by MHE believed professional experience and internships would better prepare them for the workforce. Adding fuel to this fire, in the MHE survey, nontraditional students (those who did not enter college within a year of high school) were more likely to feel prepared for the workforce than traditional students, 49% to 34%. A pretty big difference.