• Career and job competencies of liberal arts graduates [video]

    March 20, 2017 by

     

    There is a public perception that liberal arts graduates are somehow less valuable. Dr. Ascan Koerner with the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota will tell you why the opposite is true. College Recruiter connected Dr. Koerner with Todd Raphael of ERE Media to learn what his team is doing to make sure employers understand the relevancy of liberal arts students and graduates. A video of Todd Raphael’s and Dr. Koerner’s discussion is below.  Continue Reading

  • How a Liberal Arts degree prepares students for managerial success

    January 18, 2017 by

     

    For employers who look exclusively for STEM backgrounds to fill their positions, they are missing out on a wide pool of qualified candidates. Students with a liberal arts degree offer distinct advantages, and employers should not overlook them.

    Technical and engineering skills may fit only the short term

    The technical and engineering skills that get a student hired initially often have an expiration date. Those skills unfortunately may also fall victim to automation. A recent study by Carl Frey and Michael Osboren of Oxford University suggested that 47% of all employment in the U.S. is at risk of being replaced by automation, including many mid-level technical and engineering positions.

    Skills most in need are not technical, but soft

    Even more importantly from a career development perspective, technical skills alone often are insufficient to help employees advance their careers. Almost invariably, career advancement means to take on managerial and planning responsibilities. Those leadership positions require not technical skill but so-called soft skills. Soft skills include critical thinking, being able work in a group, interpersonal communication, leadership, and complex problem solving.  No surprise that according to a recent survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the four most sought after skills of recent graduates are not technical, but critical thinking/problem-solving, work ethic, teamwork, and strong oral and written communication. A recent study conducted by Indeed.com reports that 64% of “opportunity jobs” (those with high and growing wages) require complex problem solving skills.

    Liberal arts programs prepare students for leadership

    It is precisely in these areas where students with a liberal arts education have distinct advantages over their more technically educated peers. Indeed, at the core of a liberal arts education is building skills such as problem-solving, communication, leadership, engaging diversity, and ethical decision making. Liberal arts programs uniquely prepare graduates for leadership and managerial roles in organizations. Liberal arts students are also used to using their skills in various contexts, preparing them to better deal with uncertainty. Given the long-term unpredictability of today’s business climate, this adaptability is critical. Furthermore, liberal arts college are also committed to diversity and uniquely prepare students to learn and interact with students from a wide variety of backgrounds. It is no surprise that liberal arts graduates are disproportionately represented in the c-suites of the nation’s largest and most innovative corporations.

    Liberal arts graduates are life-long learners

    A final strength of liberal arts graduates that is often overlooked by recruiters is their ability to acquire new skills and to engage in life-long learning. Even if liberal arts graduates need more initial training for a position that requires specific technical skills, they have all the attributes that will make them successful in the long run. Not only do they tend to advance more readily in their careers, they also are more likely to stay with their employers and contribute significantly to the long-term success of their organizations.

    Colleges want to help connect liberal arts to careers

    Increasingly, colleges and universities are becoming more aware of how a liberal arts education contributes to career success. They are beginning to engage students and employers in conversations about the distinct advantages of liberal arts degrees. For example, the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Minnesota recently launched a career readiness initiative. The initiative highlights ten core career competencies inherent to the liberal arts. The college offers courses and programs that allow students not only to recognize their unique skills and abilities, but also how they relate to their long term career success.

    Recruiters who want to hire for the long run should pay attention to these developments and to not overlook liberal arts graduates. These young workers are viable candidates for entry-level positions, especially those that are a pipeline for leadership opportunities within their organizations.

    Dr. Ascan Koerner was recently interviewed by ERE Media’s Todd Raphael. They discussed the perception and reality of liberal arts students’ competencies and preparedness for careers. Read about and watch their discussion here!

    Ascan Koerner, professor and director of undergraduate studiesAbout Dr. Ascan Koerner: Ascan is the Director of the Career Readiness Initiative at the University of Minnesota’s College of Liberal Arts. The initiative is part of the Dean’s road map for the college and aims to make CLA graduates the most desirable and best prepared graduates. In addition, Ascan is a professor and director of undergraduate studies. His research interests are family communication and communication in interpersonal relationships.