For many years, the business world has been asking higher education to meet their needs of developing future knowledge workers who are self-leaders that take responsibility for their actions and have solid decision making and problem solving skills. An article in the Newsweek’s November 13, 2006 issue indicates that higher education has yet to hear this decades long message.
In this article, a recent graduate of an Ivy League School, shared her experiences that she lacked the fundamentals from completing a W-2 to how to rent an apartment. What was interesting was that she noted that she was not alone. According to her article, she referenced a recent study of career employment (source not cited) that hundreds of employers found new college graduates “woefully unprepared” for the job market.
For years education from K-13 has focused on learning or the acquisition of knowledge, but has miserably failed on performance or the application of knowledge. Universities or higher education continue this tradition and the 21st century is reaping the results – unprepared workers who are highly intelligent, but can’t negotiate themselves out of a cardboard box.
The University of Michigan Annual Recruiting Trends has documented the needs of employers for over 30 years. In its 2002 report, employers want graduates who have a passion for the position along with a total package including:
Verbal communication skills
Written communication skills
Dr. Carol Di-Amico in her research Workforce 2020 indicated that employers looked for the following when hiring experienced workers:
Problem solving skills 69%
Work ethics 68%
Job specific skills 61%
Organizational skills 49%
Interpersonal skills 45%
Given that many employers are looking for skill sets that are not currently being taught at the higher academic levels and probably not at the high school levels for those not immediately attending college suggests that these institutions of learning are indeed setting many young people up to fail. This would not be such a tragedy if they were not collecting thousands of dollars.
Finally, the author of this article in Newsweek believed that she invested her dollars to better advance her thinking abilities. She further wrote that her thinking was limited to the academic world and failed to transfer into the real world. Yet, it is those same professors in the academic world who insist that those in the business world where profits and losses are both earned and measured on a daily basis do not understand how to think and that education cannot be viewed as a business. This attitude is great if you are not accountable for securing results. Until education realizes its purpose is to successfully complete the next learning sequence (that means the graduates are gainfully employed in their field of expertise for at least one year) where personal and business leadership is highly developed along with all those interpersonal skills necessary for success, this young person’s experience will be multiplied by thousands more and our nation will continue to suffer.
Leanne Hoagland-Smith, M. S. writes about performance improvement within both business and education arenas as they are partners in success.