I often hear that new graduates often lack the skills required by hiring companies. But is training for the after-graduation job one of the college needs?

While the undergraduate and graduate schools should do a better job at preparing their students for the after-graduation jobs, I believe education has broader scopes. I also believe that companies should spend time and money to train their new hires to acquire specific skills. Universities are not training centers for the industry.

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The most important skill that new grads should have is knowledge of business basics. They need to understand accounts receivables, logistics and operations, and marketing plans. While many programs offer business-related courses, where else than on a corporate job could the new graduate learn better business skills? On-the job training should help here.

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Let us consider the IT industry. The IT hiring managers continue to require both soft skills (like communication skills, customer service skills, an understanding of how to behave professionally etc.) and technical skills. And the number of technical skills required for new hires continue to increase. How many courses could possibly offer an IT undergraduate program? There are more skills than courses to teach those skills.

One possibility for every student is to do an internship. An internship is an opportunity to get used with the corporate environment and culture. Interns have the possibility to learn new skills, other than those taught in college. Although, usually, even to be considered for internships, students must possess certain technical skills. Another good asset is IT certification. This may be equal to years of experience.

While new technologies emerge, some old technologies are still in demand. So again, I see the need for on-the-job training. Internships are invaluable.

Technology is changing very rapidly. College education should empower the graduates with the skill of learning new skills by themselves. This is why it is important for students to learn how to learn. There are hundreds and hundreds of books published every year, that try to keep the pace with the ever changing technologies in demand. A new graduate should be able to learn a new programming language, a new technology, by herself/himself using a good book.

The Internet itself is a source of knowledge. You can use Google for trouble-shooting your PC or Mac, for example. There are many free and paid courses online. The problem is, of course, that one can only know well several technologies, but there is a limit. And the best way to learn a new skill is hands-on.

Filed under: College needs

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