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Sunday, September 24, 2023


Clearing up students confusion on workforce readiness



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What if our college education is not enough?

In the U.S., the average college student spends $34,483 on college tuition. Many of us hope that the money and years spent will open new doors to the careers we seek, but research reveals that students lack some of the most valued skills employers seek in new hires and are blaming educational institutions.

Some employers are looking for college-educated new hires, and this trend is only growing.

“More than one-quarter of employer respondents (27.7 percent) project that over the next five years their companies will reduce the hiring of new entrants with only a high school diploma. Almost 60 percent (58.8 percent) project that their companies will increase the hiring of four-year college graduates and about half (49.5 percent) project increased hiring of two-year college/technical school graduates.”

The top skills valued by employers, regardless of the level of education attained are professionalism, work ethic, teamwork, oral communication, critical thinking, reading comprehension and written communication.

While researchers have found that few applicants meet this criteria, it would appear the higher the education, the more qualified the individual.

For example, applicants with only a high school diploma are found lacking in these categories.

Two-year and technical school graduates seem to excel in information technology applications, while four-year degree holders are primarily efficient in written and oral communications, as well as leadership skills.

Nearly 76 percent of employers believe that K-12 schools are responsible for providing the knowledge and skills required for their new entrants. Almost half of employers choose two-year college graduates among their top choices, and more believe that it’s the future employee’s responsibility to become workforce ready.

So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: How are we, future employees, supposed to be workforce ready if we are not afforded opportunities for experience and each company has different expectations?

Many valued skills do not necessary need to be taught. Instead, they could be acquired by joining student organizations.

For the most part, students must take the first steps to gain the experience need for the field they seek employment, whether it is in business, writing or research. This is done by gaining relevant work experience,  finding mentors or joining organizations suited for ones’ workforce dreams. However, not every student is aware of the steps he or she needs to take in order reach their goals.

“Our nation’s long-term ability to succeed in exporting to the growing global marketplace hinges on the abilities of today’s students,” said J. Willard Marriott Jr., Chairman and CEO of Marriott International.

We all know being well educated and well-rounded is important, but we do not know what our potential employers are looking for.

Employers think new hires, students and educational institutions are responsible for preparing their future employees.

Yet students think educational institutions and employers are supposed to prepare and train them for the workforce, and frankly, I would assume it depends on the professor whether or not he or she believes it’s his or her job to prepare a student for the work force.

Considering the sacrifices students make, institutions, employers and employees need to take another look at the message they send when the hire university-educated entrants, but deny responsibility.

Assistant opinion editor Sarah Kim is a political science senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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