Do Today’s Graduates Have the Skills Needed to Succeed in the Evolving Job Market? Employers Say “YES”

Career Climbers / 22nd September 2016

The workplace of today looks dramatically different than it did a decade, or even a few years ago. Technological and societal changes, including the incorporation of data and analytics into virtually all job functions, and the growth of social media, have had a significant impact. That leads to the question: Do recent graduates have the tools and skills they need to succeed after graduation?

Bentley University partnered with Anderson Robbins Research and surveyed 1,000+ employers, educators, current students and recent graduates to examine how the labor market has changed, how higher education has responded, and what is necessary for the next generation of graduates to thrive.

The results are resoundingly positive. While students and those just entering the workforce are worried they don’t have the right skills and experience, 78 percent of employers feel that recent graduates are prepared to succeed after college.

Just three years ago, employers and corporate recruiters responding to a survey commissioned by Bentleygave college graduates a “C” for preparedness in their first job. Today, nine out of ten employers feel that students do have the skills required to succeed.

The Move to the Extended Classroom

So what has changed? In the past five to ten years, there has been a shift in and out of the classroom. Traditional college courses were based on a lecture format, but emerging technologies and job market trends have led to broad curricular changes and a move to what Bentley calls “the extended classroom.”

The new norm is for courses to have an increased focus on technology and include fieldwork and group projects where students collaborate and present information to their peers and corporate partners, skills which employers deem invaluable. In fact, 73 percent of educators report they have moved toward a curriculum that includes a combination of classroom learning and relevant fieldwork, and 67 percent of educators place a greater emphasis on technology.

“Many educators have seen the changes happening in the workplace and made the necessary adjustments to their course content and teaching methods,” said Bentley University President Gloria Cordes Larson. “More colleges and universities are extending learning beyond the classroom by stressing the importance of internships, partnering with outside organizations to bring real business challenges on to campus, and utilizing programs like service learning and study abroad to teach students leadership and independence.”

While employers are confident students have the skills necessary to succeed, they also have high expectations that students will hit the ground running. “Today’s recent graduates have opportunities and education that rival previous generations,” said David Lucey, Vice President of Talent Acquisition for global marketing leader Epsilon. “It is no longer solely what you learn in the classroom that carries you through your career, but the notion of an extended classroom that includes real-world experience that best prepares you to succeed. At Epsilon, our entry level employees have not only the technical skills we need, but are also able to work together as a team. They have received the education and experience they need to analyze data, think creatively and, in turn, drive better business outcomes for our clients.”

For more information and key findings on being prepared for the new world of work, read the research report,“Do today’s graduates have the skills to succeed?”

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