New Report: Grads Not Only Unprepared for Workplace, But Unaware of How Unprepared They Are

Posted: Oct 29, 2013 12:48 PM

Inside Higher Ed reported on the findings of a new survey that shows just how flawed the education system is in America today. Half of college students say they are prepared for the workplace, but hiring managers completely disagree.

It is sad enough that only 50% of college students think they are prepared for the workplace, but the fact that only 39% of employers say that the students are prepared is even more worrisome. 77% of students, but only 50% of hiring managers believed that students were capable of "prioritizing" - an extremely basic job skill. 70% of students, but only 44% of managers believed they could communicate with authority figures/clients. 52% of students believed they were prepared to create a budget or financial goal, but only 30% of employers agreed - making that the lowest ranked skill overall.

The study, titled "Bridge That Gap," included responses from 1,000 hiring managers and 2,001 college students. Students overestimated themselves on literally every single tested skill by at least ten percentage points. There were certain skills that even a majority of the overconfident students did not think they could do, including managing a meeting and making a decision without having all the facts.

"Bridge That Gap"'s findings support the need for student professional development prior to graduation:

  • 93% of hiring managers want to see that the graduates they hire have demonstrated the initiative to lead.
  • 91% of hiring managers hope to see that applicants they hire have participated in extracurricular activities related to their field of study.
  • 82% think the recent graduates they hire should have completed a formal internship before graduating from college.

And it is readily apparent that professional development is still lacking in most students' college experiences:

Outside of schoolwork, the activity that college students identify spending the most time doing is socializing with friends (49%). This was followed by:

  • Working at a job not related to their field of study (31%)
  • Working out (29%)
  • Extracurricular activities not related to their field of study (22%)
  • Volunteering (15%)
  • Working at a job related to their field of study (14%)
  • Extracurricular activities related to their field of study (11%)
  • Working in an internship related to their field of study (8%)
  • Attending networking events (2%)
  • Working in an internship not related to their field of study (1%)
  • Other (4%)

Experts have been arguing for the complete integration of career services into higher education for some time. More studies like "Bridge That Gap" could provide the impetus for action.

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