And if not, why not? Bentley University of Waltham, Massachusetts, attempted to answer those questions in a recent survey conducted for the university by KRC Research. The Bentley Preparedness Survey asked more than 3,000 business recruiters, managers, high school and college students, recent college graduates, parents, and educators for their thoughts on workplace preparedness. Among the findings:
Nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 percent) consider graduates’ lack of preparedness to be a real problem, but they don’t agree on how to define it. For example, just 7 percent of high school students and 9 percent of college students define preparedness as “work ethic,” compared with 23 percent of business decision makers and 18 percent of corporate recruiters. Even more telling, 74 percent of business leaders say Millennials lack the work ethic of prior generations—whereas 52 percent of Millennials believe their work ethic is strong.
No one thinks any of the key stakeholders are doing a particularly good job of preparing students for their first jobs. Almost half (49 percent) of higher education officials give colleges and universities a grade of “C” or lower, while 51 percent of business decision makers and 43 percent of corporate recruiters give the business community a grade of “C” or lower. And 37 percent of recent college graduates score their own preparedness with a “C” or lower.
All stakeholders have parts to play in preparing Millennials for the workplace. Seventy-eight percent of respondents agree that businesses should partner with colleges and universities to develop business curricula; 85 percent agree that colleges must impart “real-world expertise” to their students; 94 percent agree that students must commit to being lifelong learners; and 85 percent agree that parents should encourage their children to take business classes.
“With persistently elevated levels of unemployment among young college graduates, it is absolutely critical that all parties do everything possible to pursue effective strategies for helping Millennials succeed in the workplace,” says Gloria Larson, Bentley’s president. To read the full survey, visit bentley.edu/preparedu/launch.