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From Academia to the Workforce

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 16 June 31 2020

September 2020

The American Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities (APLU) has published the report “From Academia to the Workforce” (with Executive Summary) by Pat Crawford and Wendy Fink on critical growth areas for students today.

The report is based on a survey directed to 31 land-grant universities yielding in total over 11 000 valid responses from alumni (42%), employers (24%), students (22%) and faculty (12%). The respondents were asked to rate skills in importance, in student preparedness, and in the extent to which non-educational activities contributed to their development. The targeted skills stem from an earlier 2011 survey, in which 11 skills came out as most relevant from a broader range of 42 – because of the gap between importance and prevalence.

Unfortunately, these 11 skills (like “understand your position”,  “cope with conflict”, understand decisions”, “ask good questions”) do not seem to correlate self-evidently with either the Big Five (or Six) Personality Traits or the Great Eight Competencies, nor with the 16 general academic and personal competencies in the AAUC VALUE Rubrics. Interesting differences in perception between groups of respondents: “Dealing with conflict” shows up as a skill that all stakeholders think is underdeveloped. Faculty see the most significant gap in communication skills, whereas alumni and students see/ expect the gap to be in the skill to build professional relationships.

The analysis of the gap between required and existing skills is an exciting feature. The report’s value is furthermore in the extensive literature overview of employability skills. This literature overview seems less focused on the American situation than the survey. But that may be unavoidable given the identity of the Association.

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