Technological advancements and an improving economy suggest a bright future for graduates seeking employment, but there is still a great debate over the necessity of a degree for prospective employees. The global job market is shifting and still relies heavily on the structure of academia, but there are important aspects outside of traditional education that increase qualifications for careers.
As business environments develop in tandem with global advancements in technology and a strengthening economy, the future looks bright. Yet, more and more students are finding their newly acquired bachelor degrees are not the ticket to employment they once thought.
According to Harvard Business Review, two-thirds of college graduates will “struggle to launch their careers”. A degree may open the door, but it won’t necessarily get them through it. In fact, large corporate companies such as Ernst & Young are removing degree classification from entry criteria, claiming there’s “no evidence” that university achievement equals success in the workplace.
While the global job market shifts and morphs, academia remains firmly rooted in theoretical study that does not reflect new business demands. The Ivory Tower has failed to keep up with a fast-paced global job market. But, by focusing on three areas of development, graduates can get ahead and better prepare for the world of work.
1: ACADEMIC STUDY IS JUST THE FIRST STEP
Traditional education tends to focus primarily on developing cognitive intelligence and theoretical knowledge. Improved cognition – a person’s thinking skills and ability to learn – is a valuable skill developed through higher education. Yet, increasingly employers are questioning the transferable skills learned from academia.
Facebook and Google, in line with Ernst & Young thinking, both claim that a degree is not a necessity. If you want to help students broaden their learned expertise, there are a huge number of massive open online courses (MOOC) available through platforms like Coursera.
While academic achievement is still important, it is just one part of what is needed.
PART 2: PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT AND SELF-MASTERY
In a fast-paced world of increasing distraction and growing interconnectedness, a new approach is needed to help students succeed.
Through developing skills like emotional intelligence and communication, students are better equipped to deal with the complexities of the world. Harvard University’s Howard Gardner backs this up with his identification of “intrapsychic” and “interpersonal” intelligence – the ability to manage the self and relationships with others.
A commitment to personal development through focused interior practices from practicing mindfulness, meditation or physical exercises such as Tai Chi or yoga are all examples of self-mastery. Today, this is easier than ever with a plethora of online resources and groups, from Facebook groups and events to tools like Headspace and Mindvalley that teach people a range of personal skills to help face larger challenges in the world.
PART 3: ENGAGE WITH THE WORLD THROUGH PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES
Ultimately it is all about the quality of impact people make in the world. Academia is designed to prepare people for the future, but this doesn’t mean students should have to wait until after graduation for this to begin.
More and more, graduates are expected to have relevant experience; from the aspiring writers tending to their online blogs to the estimated 1.5 million internships filled every year in the U.S. While this form of work experience is more prevalent in high prestige businesses, Forbes reports that in 2014 97% of large employers had plans to hire interns.
Back to Harvard Business Review’s article, the major difference between the successful one-third and those experiencing difficulties is that they started planning for their careers while still at college, and 80% had a minimum of one internship.
A good example of internships and apprenticeships is the AIESEC exchange program. A number of projects also help provide business advice to aspiring entrepreneurs with their own business ideas. At Ubiquity, we help participants to develop solid business models, plan resources and understand organizational requirements, with a focus on maximising positive societal impact around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Or encourage students to drop in at their local Impact Hub, to take advantage of the global collaborative network that supports people launching new ventures.
With so much happening in the world today, new entrants to the workforce need additional competencies to meet these demands. It means they need to be a communicator, a collaborator and to turn a critical eye to current approaches. All this goes beyond the skills they learn through established academia. Successful graduates will be those that focus on connecting with others and the wider world, helping to build a career in an increasingly interconnected and complex global job market.
What do other employers think about the current state of education?