Gallup Poll: Employers Say Recent College Grads Are Not Workforce Ready

Ben Mueller

More than half of business leaders say their new employees aren’t workforce ready after college. These findings come from the latest annual Gallup/Lumina Foundation Poll on the American public’s opinion on higher education. The results, collected from two telephone surveys from a Nov. 25 to Dec. 16 of 623 U.S. business leaders and 1,012 American adults, reflect the public’s staunch recognition of a broken university educational system. Additionally, business leaders offer opinions of what they value most in new hires. Here are four key takeaways from the report

1. Americans still believe a college degree is a ticket to a great job, but business leaders don’t believe universities prepare recent grads ready for work.

Nearly three out of four Americans agree that obtaining a certificate or degree beyond high school is essential for getting a good job. But only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree that higher ed institutions prepare students for real-world business needs.

In order to begin closing the skills gap between business skills and university classes, universities must begin reassessing what their students are actually learning. Furthermore, only 43 percent of Americans agree that college graduates in this country are well-prepared for success in the workplace.

Americans still value a college education, but do they for the right reasons?

2. Online degrees are finally showing value.

More than half (54 percent) of business leaders say that employers are likely to hire a candidate who has a degree from an online higher education provider over a candidate with the same degree from a traditional higher education institution.

This stat is part of a larger three-year trend of steady growth in Americans’ positive perception of online education. Qualms regarding engagement and effectiveness of online ed appear to be receding.

3. When employers hire, they look to knowledge and skills more than majors or alma maters.

Of employers surveyed, 80 percent believe knowledge is very important when making hiring decisions, followed by 76 percent thinking applied skills are very important for their decision making process.

Comparatively, less than half of respondents believe that a new hire’s college or major are very important.

Learning events that teach applied skills through direct work experience, such as many university’s internship programs, appear to be paramount in employer’s minds.

4. Business leaders agree that the higher education institutions are broken.

The great majority of business leaders (89 percent) think that change must come if higher education institutions hope to serve the needs of today’s students.

Their concerns have been raised. Now, what is the best way to move forward?