There’s a Disconnect Between Grads and Employers
A new survey finds that college grads and potential employers may not be seeing eye to eye on how proficient new grads are in terms of in-demand skills.
The report, commissioned by National Association of Colleges and Employers, found that graduating seniors cited communication, critical thinking, and teamwork as the three most important competencies for a job candidate to be considered “career ready.” In a separate study, employers listed the same three competencies. When asked to rate their level of proficiency in NACE’s eight career readiness competencies, new grads gave themselves the highest marks in teamwork, professionalism, and communication and consider themselves “very” or “extremely” proficient in all three. Conversely, employers rated new grads highest in their ability to work with technology, their understanding and appreciation of equity and inclusion, and their teamwork skills.
“The good news is that both new graduates and employers recognize the importance of those skills, and both agree that new grads work well in teams,” says Shawn VanDerziel, NACE executive director. “Unfortunately, they don’t agree about how proficient new graduates are in terms of communication or critical thinking. In fact, there is a lot of disagreement between them about what new graduates are best at and how proficient new grads actually are.”
WHY THE DISCONNECT?
The survey highlighted a clear disconnect between new grads and potential employers.
“When asked to rate new graduate proficiency, employers deemed new graduates as very proficient only in the technology competency,” says VanDerziel. “While they didn’t give new graduates poor marks in the other competencies—their ratings fell in the ‘somewhat to very’ proficient range—it is clear that there is a disconnect between what students think they have to offer and what employers see.”
VanDerziel says that disconnect might be attributed to how students view their college experiences and their own competencies.
“One of the reasons we see this disconnect is that many students don’t understand how their college experiences relate to the competencies,” VanDerziel explains. “As a result, they aren’t very good at demonstrating that connection to employers on their resumes or in interviews.”
To counter that, VanDerziel says career centers on many campuses are working to help students understand how their classroom work, internships, part-time jobs, and other experiences help them build and strengthen their career readiness competencies.
“We’re also seeing that more colleges and universities are taking steps to integrate career readiness into their curriculum and across services. Career readiness isn’t something that is developed ‘over there’—it’s part of the college experience and everyone, from faculty to residence life staff to career services professionals—can play a role,” he says.