On Wednesday and Thursday, I will be attending the WI SHRM State Leadership Conference at the Hotel Mead in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. I will be responsible for conducting a breakout session involving two SHRM core leadership areas - Workforce Readiness and College Relations. In mid-July, the Conference Board, in conjunction with SHRM, ASTD, and Corporate Voices for Working Families, released a research report entitled, "The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce: Exploring the Challenges of Employer-Provided Workforce Readiness Training." (SHRM membership required to access).
In a survey of 217 employers,
Employers report hiring substantial number of new entrants who are poorly prepared, requiring additional company investment to improve workforce readiness skills. And while many employers provide workforce readiness or remedial training to bring their new entrants up to speed, many report less than strong results.In an effort to see the readiness of college students to enter the workplace, I surveyed 45 attendees of the conference (6 students, 39 HR professionals). Students were asked to rate how strong they possess a number of competencies (problem solving skills, written communication skills, computer proficiency, etc.) on a scale of "1 - very weak" to "5 - very strong." HR professionals were similarly asked to what extent college graduates entering the job market possess those same competencies, with a similar scale.
Students perceived themselves as being "strong" or "very strong" on virtually all the competencies/applied skills, with the highest percentage (50%) claiming they are very strong on "discipline/work ethic." Students felt they were weakest in the areas of "negotiation skills" (50% felt they were "weak" or "neither weak nor strong"), and "ability to handle conflict/criticism" (33% indicated they were "weak" or "neither weak nor strong").
In contrast, HR professionals indicated that students were weakest in "discipline/work ethic" (44%). However, they concurred with students with regard to "negotiation skills" (only 14% thought students were "strong" or "very strong") and "ability to handle conflict/criticism" (only 11.6% thought students were "strong" or "very strong").
Obviously, there is a sample size issue given the low number of students participating in the survey, but it should prove interesting to see the discussion on how we can improve the relationship between students and HR professionals as students prepare for their senior year, and beyond.