Business Leaders Say Colleges Don't Prepare Students for Work

May 1, 2014

recent survey by Northeastern University revealed that business leaders are increasingly skeptical about the nation’s postsecondary institutions ability to prepare students with the skills necessary to be successful in today’s workforce.

Titled, “Innovation Imperative: Enhancing the Talent Pipeline”, the survey is the third in a series of opinion surveys by Northeastern University on innovation in higher education.

This poll focused on business leaders’ views on college student outcomes, graduates’ preparedness for the workforce, innovation in higher education, and the impact that the Great Recession has had on hiring.

Here are the key findings from the survey:  

  • Most business leaders (54%) believe the U.S. higher education system currently lags behind both developed and emerging countries in preparing students for the workforce.
  • Virtually all believe (96%) innovation is crucial to remain globally competitive.
  • Business leaders resolutely believe (73%) there is a skills gap among today’s U.S. workforce (someone alert Paul Krugman).
  • A substantial majority (87%) contends that most college graduates lack the most important skills needed to succeed.
  • Nearly two thirds (64%) of C-Suite executives say the Great Recession has impacted their businesses, with the most common consequence being a reduction in the number of entry-level positions (40%).
  • Higher education must develop innovative ways to educate and prepare our students: C-Suite executives assuredly believe that colleges and universities should expand opportunities for experiential learning (97%) and teaching about entrepreneurship (89%).