Here is my reaction to The Chronicle of Higher Education article:“Employers and Public Favor Graduates Who Can Communicate, Survey Finds”
You can find the original article by clicking on the link above. Below is my response:
Call me a cynic, but I also agree with csgirl that many respondents to this survey probably like the idea that “being well-rounded with a range of abilities is more important than having industry expertise because job-specific skills can be learned at work” but I’m not convinced that these respondents truly believe or embrace this when it comes to hiring and training. I am a graduate of a liberal arts university and was an admissions officer for twelve years at said university. I certainly value a liberal arts education and believe that communication and analytic skills are critical in any industry. Having said that, even my former university, steeped in the liberal arts tradition, had unveiled a dozen or so newly created niche industry-related majors and minors in just in the past five years. This was done, I suppose, to walk a fine line and produce graduates that can think critically as well as have a specific industry-related skill set upon graduation. Ideally, all college graduates should be able to think critically and communicate effectively. In “real life” however, it seems that many employers want to hire recent graduates that already have had specific training so that the companies themselves do not have to invest as much into such training. These same companies can then simply hire skilled wordsmiths, which they would do anyway, to communicate broad external and internal messages. Certainly this not applicable for every field but through my own experience and observation, (sadly) it seems to be the reality. Furthermore, the majority of students that I had encountered at college fairs over the last few years, were very interested in either learning about job-related majors (as opposed to a liberal arts program), especially nursing, or forensics (the CSI phenomenon). Who can blame them? On the one hand, there is the very practical and respectable career of a nurse, with better than average job placement prospects in this economy, and on the other hand, a career that these students like the idea of, but not because they know the reality of what it might entail—the latter sounding a lot like the survey respondents.