One cannot deny that education is a predominant step in enhancing their analytical abilities and igniting a competitive spirit.
When it comes to higher education there is always been a debate whether the study programs are actually serving the students in the right way that is, by preparing them adequately for jobs. With universities boasting that they are incorporating the right skills in the students and the employers lamenting about the gaps in student learning the question of the relevance of higher education still remains in the students’ minds.
How higher education prepares you for jobs
Universities are the places where you get a chance to enhance your knowledge about the subjects and gain the skills that will help in applying that knowledge in real life. Hence, colleges are where inexperienced students get a chance to learn about effective communication, problem-solving, analytical thinking, teamwork and leadership, some of the important characteristics required in the industry. Let us see how colleges prepare them for the industry.
- Learning teamwork through group projects – Students are introduced to the concept of team building through various group projects in college. It not only allows them to work in groups but gives them an opportunity to build up their leadership skills.
- Effective oral communication through presentations – Communication is no doubt one of the major skills required in the workplace. Students can get exposed to public speaking during college time. However, many of them avoid giving presentations or participating in debates but those who do would not get afraid to give a presentation in the workplace later in their careers.
- Learning organizational skills by developing study systems – Another important workplace characteristic is the ability to manage tasks. University life exposes students with this ability as they learn to manage their study routine, meeting assignment deadlines, working on multiple projects and of course preparing for examinations. Students who are already aware of how to prioritize things, work with to-do lists, planners and hence develop a system that can enhance their productivity are likely to face fewer problems at the workplace.
- Eloquently written communication through assignments – Everyone is aware of the excessive amounts of assignments students have to prepare in their entire academic career. It not only helps in achieving better grades but makes them aware of the process of writing – drafting, editing, rewriting and proofreading. Hence if students work upon their writing skills in college they are actually preparing them for better job opportunities.
- Effective Time management by handling a variety of tasks – School students pretty much have a sorted study routine because of its regimented schedule while colleges give the freedom to students on how they want to utilize their time. As a result, they can learn how to prioritize multiple assignments and projects, how to break big tasks into smaller manageable ones and how to achieve targets within a deadline. And, this is what most employees are looking for in people they hire.
Acknowledging the Gap
Having discussed how the higher education indirectly or directly prepares the students for jobs, the employers still find that the students are not 'job ready'. On the other hand, the university qualifications are becoming major criteria for hiring an employee and getting higher paid jobs. Hence, it has become crucial to address the gaps in higher education.
Academic grades cannot define intelligence – There is no strong correlation found between the educational level of an employee and their job performance. Instead, it has been found that the intelligence scores of a person indicate their job potential in a better way. Having said that, the academic scores of a person only indicate what they have studied in the degree. Therefore it is still a quest for the employees on what criteria they should hire people.
The students still lack in people’s skills – It can be observed that universities are not spending more time on enhancing the soft skills, or what the employees call as ‘people’s skills’, of the students. The people’s skills are actually a crucial factor that the employers look for in the applicants. This is mainly because of the increasing use of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence in the industries. The employees today want candidates who have skills other than machines such as empathy, emotional intelligence, resilience, and integrity.
On the whole, it is not only about the educational institutions or their paradigm that needs to be revised. The students pursuing higher education have to realize that it is their responsibility to keep looking for opportunities to enhance their skills in college. Similarly, employers need to think more open-mindedly while hiring an employee by not considering having a higher degree as the only metric for job performance and intellectual proficiency.