Monday, April 27, 2015

Unskilled College Grads?

You’ve got to wonder what texting, applying a vocabulary of in-crowd acronyms, dealing with short burst e-communications, surfing and posting in a social-media-driven world, head buried in your smart phone shifting focus, second to second, from topic to picture to short video, multitasking from platform to platform, gaming, sucking down on-demand entertainment… well you get it… actually do for preparing those who actually do get college degrees to get and hold a great job.
In a February 2012 Pew report, 42% of those surveyed agreed with this statement: ““In 2020, the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are ‘wired’ differently from those over age 35 and overall it yields baleful results. They do not retain information; they spend most of their energy sharing short social messages, being entertained, and being distracted away from deep engagement with people and knowledge. They lack deep-thinking capabilities; they lack face-to-face social skills; they depend in unhealthy ways on the Internet and mobile devices to function. In sum, the changes in behavior and cognition among the young are generally negative outcomes.” 
55% went with this analysis: “In 2020 the brains of multitasking teens and young adults are ‘wired’ differently from those over age 35 and overall it yields helpful results. They do not suffer notable cognitive shortcomings as they multitask and cycle quickly through personal- and work-related tasks. Rather, they are learning more and they are adept at finding answers to deep questions, in part because they can search effectively and access collective intelligence via the Internet. In sum, the changes in learning behavior and cognition among the young generally produce positive outcomes.” Which do you buy?
Millennials expect multiple job-jumps over their careers, perhaps because of market instability in corporate sustainability, but their minds are already very different from those of preceding generations. They can grapple with computers and data deluges, buck at over-supervision and rail at micro-management, but where long-term, uninterrupted concentration on a single complex problem is at hand, they often stumble. And with more jobs finally opening up, employers are learning about this new crop of entry-level workers. They are seeing short-comings in both the skillsets as well as the education these younger workers have received.
According to a survey conducted for CareerBuilder's 2015 College Job Forecast, 65 percent of American employers plan to hire recent college graduates this year. That's up from 57 percent last year, and the highest percentage since 2007. Nearly half are recruiting new hires in advance of graduation…
“Despite their willingness to hire new grads, employers admit to a belief that a college education doesn't fully prepare people for some real-world challenges. Asked to name which skills they think recent college graduates lack, employers most often cite interpersonal or problem-solving skills.
In short, today's graduates have an enviable comfort with modern technology, but may lack the attributes known as ‘soft skills.’ Most often mentioned were interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and oral communications ability.

Here are the skills most often found lacking in new graduates, and the percentage of hiring managers who cited them:

• Interpersonal or people skills, 52 percent
• Problem-solving skills, 46 percent
• Oral communication, 41 percent
• Leadership ability, 40 percent
• Written communication, 38 percent
• Teamwork, 37 percent
• Creative thinking, 36 percent
• Project management, 26 percent
• Research and analysis, 16 percent
• Math, 15 percent
• Computer and Technical, 13 percent
“‘One in five employers feel colleges do not adequately prepare students with crucial workplace competencies, including soft skills and real-world experience that might be gained through things like internships,’ said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. ‘Job seekers with a good mix of both technical and soft skills will have the best prospects right out of college.’

“When asked where academic institutions fall short, employers agreed with the following concerns:

• ‘Too much emphasis on book learning instead of real world learning’: 46 percent
• ‘I need workers with a blend of technical skills and soft skills gained from liberal arts’: 38 percent
• ‘Entry-level roles within my organization are more complex today’: 22 percent
• ‘Not enough focus on internships’: 15 percent
• ‘Technology is changing too quickly for academics to keep up’: 14 percent
• ‘Not enough students are graduating with the degrees my company needs’: 10 percent”, April 23rd.
For both workers and employers, big changes are required to maximize the higher-level job skills of these younger generations. There will be new opportunities and even more challenges, but can we count on these newer workers to bring the kind of innovation the United States need to thrive in an increasingly competitive global market? Time will tell, but they’re all we’ve got!
I’m Peter Dekom, and the one true fact of this latest generation of workers: they are probably more different than any preceding generation of entry-level workers.

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