College Graduates and Job Skills

Jeff Selingo, veteran journalist and author of College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, brings together some recent studies on what college students are not learning.

In short, they are not learning critical job skills:  according to Enterprise Rent-a-Car, “problem solving, decision making, and the ability to prioritize tasks.”  The Association of American Colleges & Universities survey of businesses found similar traits that were demanded but too often unmet:  a combination of field-specific skills and experience, and a broader educational background.  Technical training, internships, a liberal arts education – and people skills:  written and oral communication, team work, ethical decision-making, critical thinking, and the ability to apply their studies to real-world problems.

And I want a 100-mph pitcher with a knee-buckling curve ball who also hits .300 and a few dingers.

In fact, this debate ebbs and flows – technical skills v. broad education.  In the legal industry, for example, the conviction that law school is the training of a mind for a noble profession, not merely a trade school, collides with complaints from law firms that their new hires need considerable training to do basic lawyering skills.

UPDATE (30 Jan 2015):  For more on the gap between legal education and what law students actually need, see this “audacious” reform proposal, from the ABA Journal web site,

One important surprise might be how little valued study-abroad is – see the chart below – this needs further investigation.

Read Selingo’s Washington Post article here, or more on Selingo here.



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