With college tuition at an all-new high and student debt piling up, most college students can’t afford not to have a job right after graduation. As tuition continues to rise, however, the millennials’ unemployment rate is rising, as well. In 2012, college graduates age 21 to 24 averaged an unemployment rate of 8.8 percent — 3.8 percent higher than in 2000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
There is a clear problem with millennial hiring that needs to be addressed, but it’s hard to pinpoint a specific problem and solution. Yet, that’s exactly what Bentley University’s The PreparedU Project attempts to do — find, address and solve the problem of why many graduates aren’t ready for jobs they’re struggling to find.
The project launched Wednesday with a panel hosted by Bentley’s President Gloria Larson in Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. The panel included millennials, business heads and thought leaders to discuss the project and how to remedy this issue.
“If students, parents, businesses and colleges all step up and do their part, we can make significant progress in closing the preparedness gap,” said Larson in a statement.
As a part of the project, Bentley released a survey Wednesday that attempts to understand why the millennial generation is facing challenges entering the workforce. The Bentley Preparedness Survey, conducted in partnership with KRC Research, surveyed more than 3,000 people who affect millennials’ success: business decision makers, corporate recruiters, higher education influentials, parents, high school students, college students and college graduates, as well as adult members of the public.
Surprisingly, the survey shows that business decision makers are not the only ones aware of millennials’ shortcomings — 61 percent of recent college graduates give their peers a “C” in their preparation for their first jobs.
The survey also reveals many recent college graduates wished they gained a more complete skill set in school. Employers contradicted themselves when describing what they look for in potential employees, but recent graduates wished they gained more “hard skills” in college, such as technical, mathematical and writing skills.
Although the groups surveyed agree millennials need to be more prepared for their first jobs, all respondents defined preparedness differently. Qualities such as education, personality traits, experience and work ethic were mentioned by all, but prioritized differently. For example, 23 percent of businesses define preparedness as having a strong work ethic, while only nine percent of college students said the same.
Ultimately, the survey concludes each group can do more to prepare millennials for the workforce. And according to this survey, higher education, business leaders and millennials do want to make changes.
The survey respondents pinpoint solutions in specific areas. Ninety-four percent of respondents agreed higher education needs to address the preparedness issues by promoting hands-on learning, the use of cutting-edge technology and be more involved in undergraduates’ advising. Both higher education and business leaders agree, companies should play a role in high education, as well, helping to develop business curricula and improve career services.
Combining the power of business and education, programs like Bentley’s will hopefully spark more conversation about students preparation for the real world. For more information on the survey, check out Bentley’s PDF about Millennials in the Workplace.