In the Chronicle poll we learn a great deal about what the public expects from its colleges and universities. Some of what we learn depends on preparation for the work place.

Seven of ten respondents, the highest grouping among all the respondents, said preparing undergraduates for a career was very important with another 21% saying this was important.

Additionally, we find that nearly six of ten (59%) said it was very important for colleges and universities to teach students how to cope with a rapidly changing world with an additional 24% saying this was important.

But now, here is the rub: Only four percent strongly agree while 39% disagree or strongly disagree with the statement “college graduates today are well prepared for the workforce.”

Observations and Recommendations

How well are your students prepared for the workforce? Even liberal arts colleges should be able to answer this question by surveying employers, using alumni testimonials, and “guaranteeing” outcomes.

How well are you teaching your students how to cope with a changing world and work place? Liberal arts colleges have made this claim, but what has your institution done to demonstrate that it has flexible, creative and risk-taking alumni?

Are you providing your students with 21st Century work skills? One widely used model of skills demanded by employers is the SCANS Model, developed by the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS), a multi-year effort funded by the U.S. Department of Labor. The SCANS model breaks skills into two broad categories:

Foundation Skills:

Workplace Competencies:

In addition, key attitudes that research shows contribute to success on the job include: a strong need to achieve, a sense of optimism, a willingness to take the initiative, a willingness to persist in the face of difficulties, and the belief that an employee’s fate is in her/his own hands.

If your institution delivers these outcomes, make sure employers and the public know.

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