Employers: Grads aren’t ready to work

Eleven percent of business leaders strongly agree that today’s college graduates have the skills and competencies their companies need, according to a new Gallup/Lumina poll. Yet, in another Gallup survey, 96 percent of university officers believe that they’re effectively preparing students for success in the workplace.

“Something is very wrong when you see the academic leaders of higher education giving themselves an A+ on this while business leaders give them an F,” said Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education.

National Network, a business group, is working to design industry-specific job credentials that will help young people prove their competence.

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  1. cranberry says:

    “In addition to experience, business leaders most want to hire people with strong communication skills, including writing and speaking skills.”

    Bring back grammar, spelling, and book reports. Emphasize the traditional, liberal-arts curriculum.

    Many of the skills business leaders desire are not properly learned in college. I don’t know if they can be learned in college. Colleges could, however, refuse to admit students who aren’t competent at grammar, spelling, and composing essays.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      “Colleges could, however, refuse to admit students who aren’t competent at grammar, spelling, and composing essays.”
      Colleges as a group don’t want to do this because the shrinkage of the student body would require serious layoffs amongst the college employees (professors, lecturers … maybe even administration).

    • Teaching grammar, spelling and composition, like all of the foundational knowledge and skills across the disciplines, needs to start in kindergarten AND ERRORS MUST BE CORRECTED before mistakes become ingrained. Forget “discovery” “peer editing” (aka pooling ignorance), “pair share” and working in groups; explicitly TEACH what kids need to know and give them plenty of practice.

      • SC Math Teacher says:

        Hahahaha! You’re all just so cute! As if any of that is going to happen. I’m certain, though, that the next crop of freshmen will know how to do calculations with fractions without using a calculator. Yup. Definitely.
        /sarcasm off

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    Asking “university officers” whether they “believe that they’re effectively preparing students for success in the workplace” is like asking GM’s top executives whether they believe they make good cars.

  3. Given the number of resumes and C.V. I’ve gone through in my career, many of these students graduate without knowing how to write using proper grammar, dress for an interview, or understand the issues that occur in the business world on a daily basis (as I’ve often told students in presentations, academia isn’t the real world, and will never be).

    The fact that businesses find that graduate lack the skills they need shouldn’t be a surprise at all. Grade inflation in K-12 begets grade inflation in college (look at the overall remediation rate for high school seniors going directly to college).

    IMO, everyone should google ‘why college is a rip-off’ by Marty Nemko 🙂

  4. From the linked article, we find that one of the missing skills, according to employers, is: “interpreting information contained in graphs and charts”.

    Boy, I’ll say! The company I work for sells a product (related to energy management) that includes quite a lot of analytic data. We have noticed that a significant number of our younger users are unable to read a time series graph, especially if it includes more than one series of data.

    We’re not talking complex, unusual data, just a couple series’ of range of data plotted against a time domain axis. They know they’re looking at data plotted over time, but they can’t draw conclusions (such as “look how it dips down every night at 3am” or “when A goes up, B usually goes down”) from the plot. They see the squiggly lines, but they can’t see any patterns in it.

    The result is that we’ve had to dumb down our user interface to deal with the dumbed-down audience.

    There is a reason that _USA Today_ switched to “info graphics” over “graphics” some time ago. A very unhappy reason…

    • I used to read USA Today online, not anymore, too much poofy stuff and not enough information.

  5. Mark Roulo says:

    I doubt it 🙂
    College GPAs have been rising since the 1960s. The average Duke undergrad in 2007 had a GPA slightly below 3.5 (compared to one slightly below 2.5 in 1960). This doesn’t seem like struggling.

  6. Hey Mark. I brought that up because of a college administrator (I think it was) who was citing Dweck and Duckworth in comments after Barry’s latest article…