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Next week, I will have the privilege to speak at the Stockton University’s College Outcomes Symposium hosted by the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy. For those who are available, I encourage you to attend this free event to hear a vibrant discussion on how New Jersey can improve its institutions of higher education.

The symposium is a timely one.  You may recall that it was the Stockton University Polling Institute that said career readiness is a priority for New Jersey college students. That’s good news for the business community, since our priority is to ensure New Jersey’s future workforce is ready to meet the challenges of the working world. In other words, it’s in both our interests that every student pursuing higher education learns the employability and career readiness skills to be successful.

According to the Polling Institute, New Jersey college students want more experience to better prepare them for the world of work. When asked, students felt getting a better job was a top priority for pursuing higher education, but only about 35 percent said colleges are doing “extremely well” in preparing them for a job and career. Additionally, 78 percent said “internships or practical experience in college” is the most important factor to ensure success in a current or future job and career.

However, New Jersey students were not alone. Last week, McGraw-Hill Education released their national third annual Workforce Readiness Survey. The report found that only 40 percent of college seniors said their college experience prepared them for a career. Additionally, students majoring in arts and humanities were over three times as likely to say they feel “not at all prepared” for their careers (18 percent compared to less than 6 percent of all other students).

Students said they would have preferred their schools to provide:

  • More internships and professional experiences (67 percent in 2016 compared to 59 percent in 2014).
  • More time to focus on career preparation (59 percent compared to 47 percent).
  • Better access to career preparation tools (47 percent compared to 38 percent).
  • More alumni networking opportunities (34 percent compared to 22 percent).

Not surprisingly, businesses feel the same way. NJBIA’s annual survey of its members generally found them dissatisfied with the quality of entry-level workers available to them.

In other words, students, schools and businesses all want the same thing. New Jersey’s higher education institutions have been making employability skill training and career readiness a priority at every level. Next week’s symposium is just another step along the way.

Education & Workforce Development News

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