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  • Class of 2016 Believes It Is “Career Ready,” but Is It?

    September 28, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Student Attitudes
    The Class of 2016 celebrates their graduation.

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    The Class of 2016 has characterized itself as “career ready,” but are these graduates prepared in the areas that employers deem essential?

    According to results of NACE’s Class of 2016 Student Survey, two-thirds of students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that their college education had adequately prepared them to enter the work force and succeed in a professional work environment. (See Figure 1.)

    And when results of the survey are compared to those of the Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update, the areas in which students felt they were best prepared do indeed align with the career readiness competencies that employers view as most vital.

    NACE’s seven career readiness competencies represent the skills, experiences, and attributes that broadly prepare students for a successful transition into the work force.

    When asked to rate their proficiency with each of the seven career readiness competencies, 90.3 percent of Class of 2016 bachelor’s degree graduates felt they were either “extremely proficient” or “very proficient” in professionalism/work ethic. Eighty-six percent indicated similar proficiency in teamwork/collaboration and critical thinking/problem solving, followed by 80 percent in oral/written communication. Still, it’s important to note that these are student perceptions of their proficiency. (See Figure 2.)

    Meanwhile, employers that were asked to rate the career readiness competencies of college graduates in terms of “essential need” as part of NACE’s Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey ranked critical thinking/problem solving and professionalism/work ethic as most “essential.” Teamwork/collaboration and oral/written communications were next on the list. (See Figure 3.)

    But do employers agree that students are, indeed, career ready in those essential competencies? NACE is currently conducting research to ascertain how employers view college job candidates at large, and expects to provide results later this fall.

    NACE’s Class of 2016 Student Survey was conducted February 16 – April 30, 2016; more than 23,000 students at colleges and universities nationwide took part, including 5,600 graduating seniors. The survey report will be available in early fall.

    The Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update survey was conducted from February 10 – March 22, 2016. The survey was sent to 944 NACE members; 144, or 15.3 percent, responded.

    Figure 1: Perception of overall career readiness

    “My college education has adequately prepared me to enter the work force and succeed in a professional work environment.”

    Source: Class of 2016 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 2: Perception of proficiency in career readiness competencies

      Extremely proficient Very proficient Somewhat proficient Not very proficient Not at all proficient
    % of respondents
    Professionalism/Work Ethic 53.6% 36.7% 8.1% 1.2% 0.3%
    Teamwork/Collaboration 40.2% 46.0% 12.5% 1.1% 0.3%
    Critical Thinking/Problem Solving 35.2% 50.8% 12.7% 0.9% 0.4%
    Oral/Written Communication 33.0% 46.5% 18.2% 1.8% 0.4%
    Leadership 34.3% 40.4% 21.8% 2.9% 0.6%
    Career Management 23.0% 39.7% 30.5% 6.0% 0.7%
    IT Application 15.5% 31.6% 38.0% 12.9% 1.9%
    Source: Class of 2016 Student Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    Figure 3: Employers rate career readiness competencies in terms of essential need

    Competency Essential Need Rating
    Critical Thinking/Problem Solving 4.7
    Professionalism/Work Ethic 4.7
    Teamwork/Collaboration 4.6
    Oral/Written Communications 4.4
    Information Technology Application 3.9
    Leadership 3.9
    Career Management 3.6
    Weighted average. Based on a 5-point scale where 1=Not essential; 2=Not very essential; 3=Somewhat essential; 4=Essential; 5=Absolutely essential.

    Source: Job Outlook 2016 Spring Update, National Association of Colleges and Employers