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  • Career Readiness Ratings Yield Parallels, Differences

    January 25, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    A group of students rate themselves on career readiness competencies.

    TAGS: competencies, student attitudes, nace insights

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    Overall, first-generation and non-first-generation students perceived themselves similarly when asked to assess their proficiency in the competencies NACE affiliated with career readiness, according to First-Generation Students: Influences, Outcomes, and Implications for Job-Search Success.

    There were, however, differences that were uncovered by deeper analysis.

    Both groups of students perceive themselves to be most proficient in professionalism and teamwork/collaboration. (See Figure 1.) Conversely, both groups felt least proficient in career management and information technology application.

    Yet, NACE conducted further analysis to explore results beyond these averages. In some cases, the averages were reflective of the results, and there was no significant difference between the two groups in a number of the competencies. Thus, in terms of the critical thinking/problem-solving competency, a majority of both groups rated themselves as “very” to “extremely proficient,” and a majority of both groups felt positive about their proficiency in the communications and collaboration competencies. This matches the averages data.

    On the other hand, significant differences between the two groups arose upon closer examination of the proficiency ratings in the professionalism, leadership, and career management competencies. First-generation students were more likely to choose polar ends of proficiency in these competencies; a significantly higher percentage self-identified as either “extremely proficient” or “not at all proficient” than was the case with non-first-generation students. In fact, non-first-generation students were more likely to rank themselves more moderately, self-identifying as “very proficient,” “somewhat proficient,” and “not very proficient.”

    Within their majors, first-generation and non-first-generation students were most similar in how they ranked their proficiency in the information technology application competency. Not surprisingly, computer science majors ranked themselves highest in this competency (4.5 for first generation and 4.4 for non-first generation). Other majors that ranked higher than the overall average in this competency were mathematics and engineering; in addition, first-generation healthcare/nursing students ranked themselves higher than the overall average in this competency. Social/behavioral sciences and liberal arts majors ranked themselves lower than the overall average.

    Despite giving themselves a high rating in the IT application competency, in terms of aggregated ratings for all competencies, computer science majors—both first generation and non-first generation—ranked themselves well below average. Computer science majors from both groups ranked their proficiency in communications, teamwork, leadership, professionalism, and career management below average.

    Regardless of how they perceive their career readiness, computer science majors are in high demand by employers, have an elevated offer rate, and have maintained a high starting salary. This may imply certain skill sets and job-market demands exceed one’s self-perception of competency proficiency.

    The First-Generation Students Report is based on data collected through NACE’s 2016 Student Survey; data were collected from February 16, 2016, through April 30, 2016. Through NACE’s college members, this survey collected data from 23,282 respondents across all degree and year levels; the focus of this report is the 5,013 graduating seniors who identified as first generation (1,925) or non-first generation (3,088). The full report is available at ; highlights are available in “First-Generation Students and Job Success,” which appeared in the November 2016 issue of the NACE Journal.

    Figure 1: Competency perceived proficiency, averages

    Competency First Generation Non-First Generation
    Critical Thinking/Problem Solving 4.2 4.2
    Oral/Written Communication 4.1 4.1
    Teamwork/Collaboration 4.3 4.3
    Information Technology Application 3.6 3.5
    Leadership 4.1 4.1
    Professionalism 4.5 4.4
    Career Management 3.9 3.8

    5-point scale: 1=Not at all proficient; 5=Extremely proficient

    Source: First-Generation Students Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers
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