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When asked if they are prepared for a transition into the workforce, current college students say “yes” nearly 80% of the time, beaming with unbridled optimism and self-assurance. However, only 54% of recent hiring managers agree with the self-assessment, highlighting yet again the same oft-reported disconnect amongst the younger generation and those who employ them. Harris Interactive, on behalf of textbook rental and study aid company Chegg, recently surveyed 2,001 college students in the United States as well as 1,000 hiring managers to get these results.
Here at Post Grad Problems, I rally against generational bias and tear down those who propagate it, because there are far too many out there capitalizing on the same inter-generational conflict that has always existed and repeats every decade or two. Our age group is not really any different than prior generations as we venture off into the “real world,” our struggle is simply more public thanks to the internet and the 24-hour media cycle. It isn’t any bigger of a deal; it just seems like it is.
Still, when an empirical study is presented instead of the typical broad-based assumptions such as “they’re entitled” or “they use their phone too much,” it is certainly worth examining further. Supposedly, our generation lacks most in what Chegg calls “office street smarts,” which “include such skills as collaboration, managing up and making persuasive arguments.” In fact, while 70% of students believed in their ability to communicate with bosses and clients, only 44% of recruiters could say the same.
Faced with a corporate world that is increasingly casual, I can’t say I disagree with the assessment. It’s legitimately baffling how many people in our generation are also unable to write, speak to fellow adults, or otherwise communicate effectively. Still, there is a reason for this and it shouldn’t be surprising. Unless you were raised to do it or took personal initiative to learn, you may legitimately not understand your own shortcomings or why these skills are of the utmost importance.
The fact is, buried under $200 text books for required liberal studies courses, we aren’t taught practical skills in college. Instead of learning how to write in a professional setting, we’re half-assing book reports on obscure foreign literature. Instead of being taught how to handle our personal finances in a world frighteningly incapable of doing so, we’re being forced to take advanced calculus. Instead of being shown how to interact as adults in a professional setting, we’re subject to professors and administrators bickering like children over pay and perks across campus while not so subtly campaigning to students to take their side.
The argument, of course, from universities, is that depth of learning matters and that they are not pre-professional programs or trade schools. If depth of learning mattered, however, practical skills would be included, if not required, alongside those considered to be more “enlightening” in nature. Is there value in gender studies? Of course. But there’s also value in networking, perhaps the most important and underutilized skill for young adults. Good luck experiencing that if you aren’t a business student.
8 out of 10 college graduates say they feel they are ready to enter and excel in the workforce based on their skill set, but the workforce claims that only 5 of those 10 truly are. If there is a generational disconnect to be brought to light, perhaps the same writers who are so keen on vomiting copy in regards to theoretical entitlement issues and technology obsessions should focus more on the very skill set divide that directly leads to both the structural employment and career letdowns so rampant in our post-recession job market.
Then again, those bloggers weren’t taught practical skills either, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that they focus on assumptions and sweeping generalizations instead of operating in reality.
[via Wall Street Journal]