- Recent college graduates report skills gaps, Gallup research released July 14 shows. In a late 2019 survey, the organization asked new grads about how well school prepared them for the workforce. Most frequently, those surveyed said they wish they had received more training in networking and computer software skills. Respondents said they were generally happy with their math and writing skills, however.
- Business majors, in particular, reported a lack of practical skills training. This finding may reveal a deficiency in curriculum, rapidly shifting business needs or that business majors have higher expectations in this area than other students, Gallup concluded.
- These findings "offer a lens into declining American perceptions of the value of a college degree," Gallup said. "Graduates' lack of certainty that they fully refined their job skills in school could help explain why Americans are less likely today than in 2013 to believe a college education is 'very important.'"
Gallup notes what many have been saying for some time: employers' reliance on majors or degrees as a predictor of success may be outdated.
Some employers seeking data science experts have already moved away from such requirements, for example, instead focusing on practical experience, data and analytics firm Qlick found in a survey last year. More than half of respondents said previous job experience or a skills test was the best way to determine a job seeker's data literacy; only 18% said a college degree in STEM or data science is a major consideration.
That shift may have been a way to cope with the pre-pandemic talent shortage. Alexander Mann, a talent acquisition and management firm, suggested such a connection in a white paper released in February 2020. Employers can close skills gaps in STEM positions by adopting flexible academic requirements and "upskilling" non-STEM employees, the group suggested.
Many also say they're now interviewing for "soft skills," looking for candidates with strong communication abilities, leadership potential and the like. According to Parker Dewey, a firm that coordinates internships, a demand for soft skills emerged as more employers have recognized that a degree doesn't guarantee fit for entry-level positions.
Some, however, say degrees remain valuable and that there's merely a communication disconnect. "Employers are leaving talent on the table because of the simplistic — and often incomplete — measures we use to recruit, screen and hire candidates, which has profound implications for equity in the workforce and our economy," said Chet Guess, CTO and president of the technology investment group at Kingdom Capital, July 31, in announcing an initiative that aims to "translate the value of college into a language employers understand."