Why Graduates Can’t Find Great Jobs

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by Michael Flint | filed under Changing Education | Twitter, Facebook

The working environment of today’s elite companies and organizations are designed to encourage collaboration, flexibility, and communication – requisites to the success of these institutions.

This means the workforce that occupies those spaces consists of critical thinkers, problem-solvers, and creative innovators.

“[Schools need to] use more real-world situations, increase problem-solving techniques, increase creativity and innovation in thinking, increase working in groups and team environments.”

As educators we are being asked to deliver this workforce.  Are we?

Global Strategy Group, a prominent research firm, at the request of Woods Bagot – a Design and Build firm, conducted an online survey of 500 elite business decision-makers nationwide.   They only surveyed decision-makers who:

  • held titles of Principal, CEO, CFO, COO, Managing Director, or Vice-President;
  • work at companies with 100+ employees;
  • 25% of their employees were salaried;
  • Were directly involved in company strategy and personnel oversight;
  • Earned $100,000 annually or more;
  • And were at least 35 years old

These decision-makes were asked specifically about employees hired out of college or graduate school with no prior work experience.

Their findings were less than favorable for our institutions of higher learning.

First, Decision-makers agreed that:

  • Students are only somewhat or not at all prepared for success in the business world.
  • Few graduates who apply for work have the skills needed to succeed in an entry level position.
  • Even fewer possess the skills they need to advance or to be promoted.

Second, according to the elite business decision-makers surveyed, the skills most coveted by companies are:

  • problem-solving,
  • collaboration,
  • critical thinking, and
  • written communication skills.

Flowing close behind were the ability to respond to change, leadership skills, and the ability to focus.

Interestingly, the least favored skills were technological and social media skills.  In fact, only 5% of the respondents listed these skills within their top three.

[Find the full report here.]

Third, the report addresses the need for new pedagogies, new techniques and new learning spaces/environments. 

“Students can make computers and software dance, but struggle to interpret the results.”

The report suggests the future learning environment will be technologically enabled, conducive to collaboration, be flexible and fun; the same environment our students will attempt to earn their living in and carried out their livelihoods.

I am a huge fan Project-Based Learning (PBL) largely because it is addresses this issue systematically and methodically.

PBL provides a similar work setting as these leading companies and teaches the thinking and communications skills necessary our students will need to thrive in the modern business environment.

For more information:


Executives to new grads: Shape Up!

Woods Bagot | Research Study

Project-Based Learning:

NewTech Network

Buck Institute for Learning

What is PBL?


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