The perception that colleges and universities aren’t doing enough to prepare graduates for the workforce appears to be widespread. Just 13% of Americans reported feeling confident that colleges are doing a good job in preparing students, according to a Gallup poll released in April.
The survey also found that just 6% of adults with college degrees strongly agreed that college grads were prepared for the workforce. At the same time, 96% of Americans in the survey said that it was important for adults to have a degree beyond high school.
“’Unnerving’ is the only word that comes to mind regarding this finding,” wrote Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education. “Why? Because no matter whom you ask—the general population of Americans, parents for 5th- to 12th-graders, or current college freshmen—they all give the same answer to their top reason for valuing or attending college: to get a good job.”
Many point to a skills gap as the problem, but Busteed said the real issue is the communication and understanding gap between higher education and employers. Institutions are failing to provide real-world work experience, projects that require solving real problems, and mentoring from faculty and staff.
“The honest question is whether higher-education leaders and their regional and national employer counterparts have the courage to change,” he wrote. “First, to admit the current system isn’t working the way we want it to, and second, to take the steps needed to get on track.”