One of the most popular narratives in the employment market today is that a "Skills Gap" exists between the abilities employers seek in successful candidates and the capabilities that new college graduates have gained through postsecondary education.
But what if we told you this well-understood reality is a little more than fiction, and that a gap of another sort does exist. We call it the “awareness gap." Simply put, this is the inability for college graduates to make employers aware of the skills they actually have. College graduates’ skills are not visible to employers because while they’re leaving colleges and universities with transcripts and resumes, employers aren’t able to see the skills they’ve developed through coursework and co-curricular activities.
Today’s progressive, student-centric institutions of higher learning can measure student learning outcomes -- are students actually demonstrating the outcomes that higher education accreditors require that universities state at the program and course levels? From here, it’s just a short skip to identifying skills and competencies that students demonstrate per program, course or even assignment -- demonstrating to employers that students are career-ready. Imagine a next-generation course catalog showing majors and courses, alongside the skills they should expect to attain and how those skills correspond to specific industries and jobs?
Beyond skills readily demonstrable from college curriculum (primarily cognitive skills and technical skills), there’s the big question of soft skills. Employers continue to complain about the soft skills of college graduates: leadership, the ability to work in a team, written communication skills, problem-solving, a strong work ethic, grit. In short, today’s employers aren’t only seeking graduates who know something, they want candidates who are career-ready.