By GAPS • August 9, 2017
As college education becomes increasingly commonplace, the new members of the workforce are more educated than ever before. However, many companies still bemoan the lack of practical skills among this demographic.
A Bachelors degree used to mean a job; now, it means a pile of debt and a slightly reduced chance of unemployment. The legions of college graduates competing for entry-level positions is growing each year, and the well-rounded liberal arts education that firms used to clamor after are becoming a little too ubiquitous.
Companies across the US have reacted to the flooded market and changing economy with a new wish that is not entirely unexpected: practical skills. Today, more and more firms are seeking college graduates who possess not only a solid educational background but also a set of already developed/developing industry-specific (as well as general professional) skills.
And institutions of higher learning are listening closely. How are they responding?
Many colleges and universities are beginning to develop a wide array of minors requiring less than twenty credits. Allowing students to develop knowledge and skills, whether related to their major or not, to a less intensive degree is helping to prepare students with less "practical" concentrations to hone their professional abilities in a variety of areas, should they enter an industry outside of the primary focus of their studies.
Minors in computer science, business studies, marketing and communications are gaining in popularity across the country for both universities and students looking to be prepared for the contemporary workplace.
Once again, technical programs and certifications are coming back to popularity. While liberal arts and other university degrees have surged, our society is still in just as great of a need for manufacturers, technicians, electricians, plumbers and much more.
A college degree has transformed from merely a professional asset to a stamp of approval in many realms of life. Still, not every person has the desire to study a complete degree, nor should they. Hopefully, the proliferation of high-quality technical training programs, which quite often leads to a secure job, will help to reduce the societal pressure to study at a traditional college or university for those who do not have that wish.
While internships do pose other problems for the young workforce, universities’ emphasis on practical training has helped to foster practical skills and legitimate work experience for students. Most, if not all, colleges and universities provide resources to help students find internships and apprenticeships, and a growing number of degree programs require a certain number of hours of time on-the-job.
Many of these programs emphasize mentorship, professional development and networking, seriously increasing a student’s chances of finding a suitable job after graduation. Gone are the days of an internship being a nice asset; now, they are a necessity.