Unemployment numbers are rising, but millennials are still having a hard time finding jobs.
Now, a national organization wants to address that situation by including college students in the conversation about job readiness. As part of that effort, 20 students and business leaders met last week for a round-table discussion at Temple University on preparing for companies’ expectations.
The National Campus Leadership Council is hosting these events in 15 cities, including Detroit, Atlanta and Cleveland.
Businesses and universities have been making these policy and curriculum decisions without student input, said Andy MacCracken, the council’s executive director.
“We see, nationally at least, a very big disconnect between what employers are hoping to see come out of higher ed, in terms of what students are ready for, versus what the actual higher ed administration thinks their students are prepared with,” he said.
A Gallup survey found 96 percent of university provosts around the country think that their college graduates are prepared for employment, but only 11 percent of business leaders agree with that.
Student leaders from Temple, La Salle, Drexel and the Community College of Philadelphia participated in “college to career” conversation.
Temple’s student body president, Ray Smeriglio, said the job market is a scary place for students, so this event is helpful.
“You get to hear what the problems are on the ground,” he said. “So what employers are facing with incoming students and what incoming students are facing as they go into this workforce.”
Participants included Campbell Soup Company, Wawa Inc., SEPTA and health insurance companies.
Recent college grads tend to lack basic skills, according to company officials, such as communication, dress code and relationship-building skills — issues Smeriglio hopes to address.
“Trying to figure out what we can do here in the higher education institution to help better support students, equip them for the real world and get them into the workforce,” he said.
One takeaway from the Temple session was the need for internships and workforce preparedness to be integrated into required curricula; Drexel University’s Co-op program was cited as a model.
The event’s local partners, Campus Philly and CEO Council for Growth, said today’s discussion is part of an ongoing conversation Philadelphians are already having.
The National Campus Leadership Council plans to publish a research paper about trends across the country.