McGraw Hill Education recently conducted and completed an analysis of their 2017 Future Workforce Survey, which collected data about how prepared students feel about finding a job after graduation. According to the survey analysis, “Fewer than half of students surveyed feel very or extremely prepared for their professional career,” which is certainly a troubling reality for career centers. However, the survey did shed some light on data that career services professionals can turn into actionable steps towards helping students feel more prepared for the workforce going forward.
The 2017 Future Workforce Survey asked students, “What would have helped you feel more prepared for your career?” and the results were telling. Below are the two answers students provided in the highest percentages and what you can do in response.
More Internships and Professional Experience
In the most recent data calculated, 63% of respondents indicated that they would have felt more prepared for the workforce if they had participated in more internships and built up more professional experience during college. Interestingly, the survey also showed that “one in three respondents have not performed any job search activity.” This means that career centers need to up the ante on increasing student engagement with career services to ensure that students are taking advantage of all the resources available to help them find internships and part-time jobs in their chosen field.
Now is the time to increase your career center’s outreach to students – make sure students are aware of the services your career center offers, know how to use your school’s job board and know who the key contacts are at their career center to reach out to with any questions. Get creative with your outreach; email blasts, social media and visual reminders like flyers or posters around campus are all effective ways to remind students that you’re there to help them get the professional experience they are concerned they’re lacking.
More Time to Focus on Career Preparation
This was the second most frequent response – students say they would feel more career-ready if they had been given more time to focus on career preparation. This is understandable, because most students are naturally very busy with academics during school, leaving what may feel like little or no time to visit the career center or worry about completing an internship.
There are two ways career centers can combat this time crunch: the first way is to start career outreach early. If you have a system like CSM, you can target communications to freshmen specifically and make sure that career readiness is something they start thinking about as early as possible.
The second way is to help students get more value out of the time they do have to spend working with your career center. Make sure that your office offers a student experience that is fast, easy and efficient. The best way to get students involved with career services is to make it as pain-free for them as possible. Get rid of any manual processes that result in wasted time for your office, and in effect, for students trying to work with you. Every service you offer to students should be offered in a way that makes taking advantage of it almost effortless.
While some of the numbers in this survey might be discouraging, it’s important for career services professionals to remember that they have the power to make a change and help students become more confident before entering the workforce. With the right career services management tools and the right attitude, career services professionals can make a huge difference in turning the conversation and the data around.