n a research study this year, IBM set out to uncover what’s wrong with higher education. In collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed more than 900 academic industry leaders from private and public colleges and universities, vocational programs, community colleges, education service providers and corporations throughout the world.
The survey revealed concerns regarding the higher education system’s abilities to address consumer requirements. Less than half of respondents believe the system meets the needs of students (49 percent), industry (41 percent) and society (47 percent).
Why? As job preparedness studies indicate, the very skills needed for workforce success are the same skills exiting students often lack, including analysis and problem-solving; collaboration and team work; business-context communication; and flexibility, agility and adaptability. IBM reported that 70 percent of corporate recruiters experience challenges finding college-aged applicants with sufficient practical experience.
In terms of economic value, only 51 percent of industry and academic leaders believe higher education is providing value for money, and just 49 percent view it as contributing to economic growth and competitiveness.
Nevertheless, the institution of higher education isn’t going away, and it is unlikely to be significantly reformed any time soon. For this reason, it’s up to students to determine how to best use educational resources so they are fully prepared for the work world upon graduation.
Take advantage of experience-based learning. Put away your textbooks and look for real-world learning experiences like internships and apprenticeships that will allow you to practice the skills you’ve heard about in the classroom. Select professors and courses that practice “flip” teaching, where students learn basic content outside class and do homework and problem-solve in class. Work with mentors to establish metrics that objectively evaluate the impact of these programs on your skill acquisition.
Partner with potential employers. Develop relationships with corporate recruiters early in your university tenure. Inquire about on-site shadowing and job opportunities and get their input on the course work and concentrations that will be most helpful in securing and thriving in an entry-level role in their organizations. Understand their needs and acquire the right combination of skills to properly address those needs. Study their businesses and note how, where and why they’re successful and unsuccessful.
For the rest of my tips, check out the full article at U.S. News and World Report.