Millennial Students Need Extra Help to Prepare for the Workplace

Hint: Offer Business and Technology Skill-Building, On-Campus Career Counseling

Millennials in Higher Education

Unfortunately for those millennials currently entering the workforce, their generation’s bad reputation precedes them—and can often keep them from landing the job.

Employees aged between 25 to 34 years already make up a significant proportion of the U.S. labor market, as per the 2016 data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they will continue to grow their share in the workforce in coming years. Educational institutions are at the frontlines of preparing these newcomers to the workforce—a critical task. So what can colleges and universities do better?

The key is to understand this cohort—their makeup, needs, strengths, and goals, Kent Seaver explains in in his AudioSolutionz webinar Engaging Millennials in Higher Education: Tools for Tomorrow’s Workforce Success. The millennial generation is ethnically diverse and possesses different attitudes than older generations, so professional development must be targeted accordingly, he notes.

Identify & Improve Specific Shortcomings

The problem is that millennials, people born between 1980 and 1994, are often associated with behaviors employers find unacceptable, such as checking social media at work, “leaving in the middle of a team project meeting to go for a workout at the gym, or asking for a do-over when an assignment went awry”, reports the Washington Post.

At the same time, employers do believe that millennials are willing to work hard on the job.

And, contrary to popular belief, millennials themselves are well aware of their shortcomings.

The Bentley University Preparedness Survey found that 66 percent of recent college graduates feel unpreparedness is a real problem among their cohort. Sixty percent of them blame themselves for their unpreparedness, but only 40 percent blame their colleges or universities.

Among those Bentley surveyed, including business professionals, academics, parents and millennials, most feel both hard and soft skills are equally important at work and will continue to remain so ten years from now. Hard skills include professional and technical skills, while soft skills include interpersonal skills, teamwork, and patience.

Give Students a Chance to Get Their Hands Dirty

There is tremendous opportunity for educational institutions to play a key role in helping student s hone the skills that will carry them far into their career lives. The Bentley survey outlines a number of solutions, including the roles that colleges and universities—including mentors, career advisors, and counselors—can play:

  • Provide hands-on learning for both academic and technical subjects, .
  • Involve advisors more fully into students’ career aspirations.
  • Match career services to what real-world businesses are looking for regarding internships, resumes, cover letters, and interview skills.
  • Offer lectures by business professionals to impart real-world expertise.
  • Integrate technology throughout campus to familiarize students with the latest tech capabilities.
  • Provide individualized learning wherever possible.

Seaver emphasizes that last point in his presentation, as well:  Individualized learning is vital, he says.  Plus, educational institutions must learn to leverage technology and instruction in new ways, and especially to use social media meaningfully and resourcefully.

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Niyati Behl
About Niyati Behl
Niyati has extensive experience in identifying key industry trends and the latest regulatory and legislative changes within the healthcare, insurance and finance industries. Previously, she worked as a project consultant in the tire industry, where she identified changes in regulations, trading policies and other economic and political factors impacting the industry.