Expectations for Education: 2013

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As the conversation continues about tailoring academic curricula to meet private sector needs, a recent data set provides further food for thought.

A national survey conducted by Northeastern University polled a sample of 1,000 people, along with more than 260 hiring decision-makers from small businesses to global corporations. The results indicate an ongoing preference for educational breadth, as opposed to specialization:

[N]early two-​​thirds of Americans (65 percent) and almost three-​​quarters of hiring decision-​​makers (73 percent) believe that being well-​​rounded with a range of knowledge is more important than possessing industry-​​specific skills.

So, does that mean the debate swings toward the “well-rounded” side and away from the “industry-specific” proponents? Not quite.

Expectations for Education: 2013Americans see a shared responsibility when it comes to preparing recent graduates for success. They believe the number one reason for employers struggling to find qualified job candidates is that companies do not invest enough in training new hires. However, hiring decision-​​makers say that colleges and universities are not in tune with industry needs and not preparing graduates accordingly. In fact, 55 percent of business leaders surveyed say their firms have trained recent college graduates on skills they should have learned at an academic institution.

This article summarizes the survey’s findings and includes some quick-hit data points of note; for more information, take a look at the survey’s main page. There’s also this sharp infographic—or you can just go right to the numbers.