Pinpointing the 'Preparation Gap' Between Employers and Graduates

Pinpointing the 'Preparation Gap' Between Employers and Graduates

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"Before anything else, preparation is key to success," Alexander Graham Bell once said.

Today, millennials are increasingly having a tough time finding meaningful work, and it has raised questions over whether colleges are doing their job in preparing students for employment.

On January 29, Bentley University launched The PreparedU Project to pinpoint the disconnects between college education and employment. The initiative kicked off with a survey of over 3,149 millennials, parents, business and higher-ed leaders (PDF)--nine stakeholder audiences in all--on how colleges are preparing graduates for jobs.

"The preparedness gap exists because there is no common definition about what preparedness--and that gap is most evident between businesses and students," reads the report. The findings affirm this statement:

  • 74% of college students are confident that graduating is a signal of preparedness, but
  • 61% of business decision-makers give colleges and universities a "C" or lower grade when it comes to preparing students for jobs
  • 54% of corporate recruiters give recent college graduates a "C" on preparedness for their first jobs. (Only 9% of recruiters gave an "A")

Another telling statistic: Over 40% of business decision makers and corporate recruiters say preparedness is defined by work ethic, while only 9% of college students and 7% of high schoolers agree.

So perhaps there is something to the "grit and persistence" theory advocated by education researchers like MacArthur genius Angela DuckWorth.

One solution raised in the survey is to have children take more business classes "because they teach skills applicable to any career." That suggestion shouldn't surprise anyone, however, since Bentley is best known for its MBA program.

Bentley University is not alone in pushing for better research and results in helping young grads find employment. President Obama recently called for a renewed focus on helping young adults attain workforce skills, and recently assigned Vice President Joe Biden to oversee a reform of training programs at community colleges to better meet employer needs.

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