Despite increased efforts to bridge the gap between what is being taught in our schools and Universities, the needs of the job market are still struggling to be met. Many college graduates still find themselves without the skill sets needed to succeed in the ever-increasingly competitive job market. Some very recent research has indicated that college graduates are more vulnerable to unemployment in the current job market than those who have a high school diploma only. In order to improve the quality of job candidates, action must be taken, for their sake and the sake of the market overall.
Millions of dollars has been spent to attempt to bridge the gap between education and the business community. Unfortunately, these efforts continue to fall short of the mark. Given the lack of direct engagement in how these dollars should be spent, the responsibility to teach across this skills gap now rests firmly upon the shoulders of educators and business leaders, not the government.
One of the most effective approaches I can envision to solving the problem is to be sure that educators understand the demands of employers in today’s job market. While it is surely true that academics are highly trained in their own field, many educators lack the real-world experience needed to transfer the relevant knowledge to their students. Entrepreneurs, small business leaders and grass roots efforts should be active in inviting educators at all levels to visit local businesses. Taking an inside look at the business world offers educators the knowledge they need to provide their students with essential work skills.
Educators who take the time to visit small businesses are investing in the future of their students. After a visit to a local business, educators should sit down with business leaders to understand what particular skills they find desirable when hiring. Educators who are able to visit a wide variety of businesses are able to provide absolutely invaluable information to their students. By the same token, businesses who invest in bringing these educators to the table will help set the stage for the future graduates ultimate success.
Fostering engagement and communication across the business and educational boundaries that exist should allow students to develop a strong idea of what they would like to study in college and educator, what should be taught. Students who are interested in vocational schools and apprenticeship programs can build valuable contacts through such programs as well. At the college level, students should be encouraged to complete comprehensive internships. Business leaders can focus on providing students with real-world skills while supporting their aspirations to attain a higher education and creating greater value to the community overall when those students enter the workforce.