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How to Prepare College Graduates for the Future of Work
Are colleges effectively preparing graduates with the skills they need for their careers? The question goes beyond technical skills like balancing a spreadsheet or coding an algorithm. Communication, critical thinking and an ability to collaborate with diverse teams are among the most in-demand skills. Employers and educators recently came together at Bentley University for an event, “The Future of Work: The Path From College to Career,” to discuss the future of jobs and how they can partner to make sure graduates are ready for the changing market.
“Bentley has been committed to preparing students for the world of work for a long time,” said Lynne Rosansky, interim provost at Bentley University. “Students need to be prepared with the soft skills as well as the deep content knowledge. It’s not enough to just have the analytics or accounting knowledge or specialization. They also have to be able to communicate about it.”
The big question, according to Rosansky: How do we prepare college students for jobs in our ever-changing workplace, including those jobs that haven’t been invented yet? “Our partners in industry are also struggling with how to train the workforce,” Rosansky said. “The speed and connectivity that technology brings and the increasingly intense availability of data is changing our world.”
Watch Susan Brennan of Bentley’s interview with The Chronicle of Higher Education on the importance of career services in preparing students for the future of work.
In various discussions at the event, which Bentley co-hosted with The Chronicle of Higher Education, employers and educators offered takeaways on trends affecting the future of work, gaps in the system, and what’s needed from both sides to prepare students for the ever-changing job market.
Here were some of the comments:
“Corporate America has been so trained for employees to make a linear path—a specific degree or GPA. But if the worker talent is going to continue to increase, companies that expand their horizons on the degrees they will accept and that focus on the competencies that employees have as opposed to the degree on their wall--those will be the companies that are leading.” –Bruce Soltys, 2nd vice president for talent acquisition at Travelers
“When I’m hiring, an economics major may stumble in the first two years, but five years down the line they may really stand out as a leader or bring a different skill set that we wouldn’t necessarily have hired for. You have to challenge yourself and ask if you’re bringing in enough diversity.” –Jessica LoDolce, senior director of financial planning and analysis at Thermo Fisher Scientific
“Internships aren’t about filing, they’re real-world experience. We do have work to get done that interns do, but half of the internship is about experiential learning for the student.” –David Lucey, vice president for talent acquisition at Epsilon
“Internships are truly the engine to full time employment for us. If there’s not a path for full time, then it’s not an internship in my mind.” –Bruce Soltys, 2nd vice president for talent acquisition at Travelers
“Employers are frustrated because they and higher education are on two different cycles of change. Years ago industries evolved on a 10-year cycle but that’s not the case anymore. They’re on a one- to two-year cycle yet higher education turns out students on a four-year cycle.” –Scott Latham, vice provost for innovation and workforce development at University of Massachusetts Lowell
“Our students are passionate about topics such as the environment, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, or health in society and they want to bundle their courses around these topics and talk about hybrid jobs that incorporate those areas. If you’re a business student and can combine that with liberal arts, that is what employers are demanding. Students are looking for those combinations, but it’s also what makes them more employable.” –Susan Brennan, associate vice president for university career services at Bentley University
When Brenden Botelho ‘20 and Jonny Boains ‘18 took internships in the Mass. Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, what was the biggest community problem to tackle? Adapting to climate change.