As college graduates burst out of the gates of their respective alma maters, polished and confident in their abilities, few are probably thinking ahead to a possible speed bump that sits in their paths. That stubborn obstacle would be the disconnect between the jobs they eventually secure and the skills they’ve learned thus far.
The gap has always existed. Young people coming out of school cannot all be expected to immediately possess the hard skills organizations require. Some will, of course, but most won’t. To get a better grasp on what exactly new entrants to the workforce are missing, online benefits and compensation information company, PayScale, surveyed 63,924 managers and 14,167 recent graduates earlier this year. The results they turned up are pointed.
PayScale’s report – taken from data acquired as part of the organization’s larger employee compensation survey – shows that certain soft and hard skills tend to be missing from young graduates.
Among ‘hard skills’ – unambiguous proficiencies useful on the job – managers said new grads were most lacking in writing proficiency. In fact, 44% of managers surveyed said as much. Also, 39% of managers found their recently matriculated hires to be lacking in public speaking skills and 36% claimed they needed to bone up on their data analysis talents—that includes knowledge of programs like Excel, Tableau, Python, R, etc.
Among soft skills, managers were even more united in their opinions of where they see a dearth. According to PayScale’s survey, 60% of managers claim the new graduates they see taking jobs within their organizations do not have the critical thinking and problem solving skills they feel are necessary for the job. Additionally, 56% of managers said recent grads do not pay attention to detail and 46% said the young workers would do well to hone their communication skills. Some 44% of managers reported a lack of leadership qualities and 36% reported lower-than-needed interpersonal and teamwork skills.
That managers feel the latest additions to their organizations need to develop some further skills may not be entirely surprising. On the other side of the table, though, recent graduates seem to feel – for the most part – that they are going into their new gigs reasonably prepared.
According to PayScale’s survey, 25% of recent grads felt they were “extremely prepared” for their new jobs while only 8% of managers agreed. 62% of recent grads felt they were “mostly prepared,” while only 42% of managers concurred. When asked whether they were “well prepared,” 87% of recent grads said they were, but only 50% of managers seemed to feel that way.
The gap between the skills college grads have and what they need to succeed at their new careers is very real. Luckily the chasm can be bridged by some added instruction and earned experience.
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