Posted May 21, 2013 by

Employers Emphasize Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills Over College Major

While no one should short change earning a college degree, some of today’s employers are more interested in the skills college graduates possess, specifically in critical thinking and problem solving.  Learn more in the following post.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) released last month a report, It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, summarizing the findings of a national survey of business and nonprofit leaders. Among other things, the survey reveals that 74 percent of business and nonprofit leaders say they would recommend a twenty-first century liberal education to a young person they know in order to prepare for long-term professional success in today’s global economy.

Mildred García

Mildred García, President of California State University, Fullerton and Chair of AAC&U’s Board of Directors

“While policy leaders have been focused intensely on what college students are choosing as their majors and what salaries they are being paid shortly after they graduate, business leaders who actually hire college graduates are urging us to prioritize the cross-cutting capacities a college education should develop in every student, in every major,” said Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton and chair of AAC&U’s board of directors. “No matter what careers students seek, their college education must equip them with intercultural skills, ethical judgment, and a sophisticated understanding of the diversity of our society and of any successful business or organization.”

Here are key findings from A National Survey of Business and Nonprofit Leaders:

  •     Nearly all employers surveyed (93 percent) say that “a demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than [a candidate’s] undergraduate major.”
  •     Even more (95 percent) say they prioritize hiring college graduates with skills that will help them contribute to innovation in the workplace.
  •     About 95 percent of those surveyed also say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity; intercultural skills; and the capacity for continued new learning.
  •     More than 75 percent of those surveyed say they want more emphasis on five key areas including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
  •     80 percent of employers agree that, regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.

 

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