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What Do Employers Want of Today’s Grads?

by | Apr 30, 2018

Aligning Expectations

Every year, high school seniors take on the decision of how they will continue their educations. Many choose college, others choose a more direct path to employment through vocational training, and others try to go directly to work from high school.

“What will I do after high school?” is each young person’s question for the asking and pursuing. The flip question, though, is for employers: “How will this candidate add value to my company?”

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ Job Outlook 2016 survey: 

  • More than 80% of responding employers said when they are considering candidates, they look for evidence of leadership skills on the candidate’s resume
  • Nearly as many cited looking for evidence of the candidate’s ability to work in a team (78.9%)
  • Thirdly, employers cited written communication skills (70.2%), tied with problem-solving skills, followed by verbal communication skills and strong work ethic (68.9%)
  • Computer skills? Twelfth (55.3%)

When asked recently for a response to the question, “What do future employers want from today’s students?” Anthony Bruce, a partner in PwC’s UK Human Resource Consulting practice, replied:

“It would be obvious and true to say that we will continue to look for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. However, the critical skills we’ll need in the future are ones that technology can’t replace or supplement. Attributes like empathy, creativity, and skills that have often been described as ‘soft,’ will become harder to replicate in technology, and will, therefore, become more of a premium as we look at attracting the very best talent into the organization.”

Employers seek creative, courageous, and integrative thinkers with the capacity to build solid professional relationships, much more than the ability to Google an answer or demonstrate technical excellence.

To add value to the workplace, job candidates must be able to move freely between many different worlds of knowledge, both familiar and not.

The truth is that these skill sets that employers are now seeking—different from those of the past where a good number of well-paying jobs required physical labor and more narrow focus—including a broader thinking capacity, are not something being taught in schools. 

Without integrative learning opportunities, there is no integrative thinking practice.

Capabilities of a Successful Child

At Raising Families, we do not hold schools in the primary role of the educational stewardship of our children. It is the parent’s challenge to prepare their children to thrive in a world that is very different—socially and materially—than the one they grew up in. Relying on the classroom educational system to prepare children for the future is not enough.

There are five capabilities we’ve identified that all those who are ready to move into society should have. Two are especially relevant to preparing children for the job market:

Communicate and interact clearly with others, both verbally and in writing. This capability is critical to long-term success in personal relationships, in the community, and in the job market. Too many employers give new employees a failing score when it comes to interpersonal communication skills.

Unlearn and relearn on an ongoing basis. Critical to supporting economic self-sufficiency is going to school, asking questions, and taking on new skills throughout one’s career. Keeping up with new knowledge and information is critical. When people stop learning, their opportunities diminish.

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Elane V. Scott

Elane is the co-founder of Raising Families. Her unique expertise in fields from marketing and media to community development and parent coaching is how she guides parents and grandparents to become more joyful and intentional family leaders. In her “free time” Elane enjoys reading metaphysical texts, talking to strangers on airplanes (pre-covid), and lovingly convincing her grandchildren they're meant for Olympic stardom. Read full bio >>