Survey reveals disagreement between colleges and employers on workforce ready graduates

In an article posted within the College section of the Huffington Post, a recent polled revealed that only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree that graduates have the skills and competencies necessary to succeed in the workplace. On the other hand, 96 percent of academic officials believe that they are “effectively preparing students for success in the workplace”. Why are there such contradicting perspectives on the skills gap? According to Chief Workforce Strategist at College of America Julian L. Alssid, what academia view as workforce-readiness in college graduates greatly differs from what businesses see as readiness.

It is hard to place blame completely on one party according to Alssid. On the one hand, everyday businesses see “well-screened, seemingly well-qualified graduates filter through their doors—without the basic skills sets expected.” Employers are looking for practical skills, not just the knowledge of theory. On the opposing side, however, industry leaders neglect to communicate effectively with educational institutions about the skills they need. Part of the solution to fix this gap, says Alssid, will require a “consortium of effort—from educators, business leaders, workforce development professionals, economic developers and the students themselves” to build a competent workforce for all involved.

Although Alssid posits an interesting solution here, it is also important to note that employers may also have to understand that they are unable to outsource all of their training to colleges, universities, and other government subsidized programs. These are designed with standardized curricula for a “one size fits all” training experience designed around common problems faced in the workforce. In other words, employers may just have to accept that colleges and universities may not be the place to receive “basic skills.” This may have to be part of training while on the job, as every place of employment is often a unique environment, with unique needs, having differing basic skill requirements and application of those skills.