college degree poll

That College Degree is Almost Meaningless When It Comes to Job Readiness

Tim Sackett College Recruiting, Tim Sackett, Udacity

In 2014, Gallup did a survey basically asking business leaders and Chief Academic Officers of higher education institution one question:

“Do you believe academic programs are preparing graduates for jobs?” 

Here are the results:

We could probably guess the outcome, right!?

Now, the higher education folks, understandably, get a little worked up over stuff like this. Many in higher ed will say it’s not their job to prepare graduates for jobs in your company, it’s their job to educate students on a specific set of knowledge the student signed up to learn. Those are two very different things.

The bigger question might be: “Should higher education institutions change their focus to better develop students for careers after college?”

You know the results of that question? The exact opposite of what you’ll see above! The main problem business leaders see with higher education institutions is that in most cases they are not properly preparing their graduates for the jobs they’ll be working in. Mainly because, for decades it was up to companies to spend money to train workers, but somewhere along the way, companies decided this should be done by educational institutions.

There isn’t a perfect answer on how to fix this. I do think you’re seeing many institutions of learnings, even four-year traditional colleges, that are changing how they educate students in helping them become ‘job’ ready, instead of ‘career’ ready.

Being ‘job’ ready is the pain point of industry. Being ‘career’ ready is the pain point of students. Which pain point should higher education help to solve? The simple answer is both. Industry is funding much of the growth in higher education through donations, programs, etc. Students are funding the higher education kingdom building through ever increasing tuition fees. Neither side feels like they’re getting their money’s worth.

What we know in the private sector of industry is that if you can find a party who has money but doesn’t feel like they’re being listened to, you have an opportunity to make some money! You see these industries popping up everywhere. Coding camps, non-traditional degree programs, specialty skill training programs, etc.

Jobs that normally would have been filled by college graduates are now being filled by non-college graduates who have invested in other forms of acquiring the skills needed to do the jobs industry is desperate to fill. Corporate talent acquisition will lead this change. You already see fewer and fewer organizations show up on college campuses because those students don’t fit the job requirements the organization needs.

It’s a fundamental argument that higher education truly believes they are on the right side of. The problem is, both their stakeholders don’t share the same view. Long term this is going to change the higher education industry as we know it.

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