Employers Say College Graduates Lack Job Skills

December 05, 2011

Many employers believe colleges aren't adequately preparing students for jobs, according to findings of a study presented here on Monday by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

The group surveyed more than 1,000 employers in various industries last month about whether job applicants possess the skills to thrive in the workplace. More than half of employers said finding qualified applicants is difficult, and just under half thought students should receive specific workplace training rather than a more broad-based education.

At a news conference announcing those findings, Rep. Virginia Foxx, the North Carolina Republican who is chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives higher-education subcommittee, urged institutions to heed employers' calls. "Colleges and universities are pandering to the students and giving them what they want, instead of what the employers want," she said. "I don't think you have to make a distinction between getting skills and getting an education. We need to do both."

According to the survey results, less than 10 percent of employers thought colleges did an "excellent" job of preparing students for work. Nearly 30 percent said finding the right applicant has grown harder in the past few years. On all hiring criteria included in the survey, such as adaptability and critical thinking, applicants were performing below employers' expectations.

Also on Monday, the accrediting council announced a Student Success Initiative to conduct further research and encourage colleges to focus on job training and placement.