student.looking through magnifying glass

Educators and managers were asked in an independent survey conducted by Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute, “Do you think that students entering the job market would have an advantage if they have created articles, blogs, books, videos, and etc…that tackles an industry problem?” Over 96% of respondents felt that students with intellectual property had a better chance of getting the best jobs over students who didn’t possess any intellectual property.

However, there is an ongoing debate raging as to whose responsibility it is to prepare college graduates for today’s workforce.  Corporate managers suggest that many college graduates aren’t prepared with the critical thinking, problem solving, and decision-making skills necessary to affect corporate productivity and profitability.  Conversely, college administrators suggest students are well-prepared by their standards.

As corporations and colleges bicker back and forth about the responsibility of preparing students for the 21st century workforce, students are left in the lurch. Although a case can be made that both sectors are responsible for the advancement of students, colleges and universities have the most to lose.

Here are 3 reasons why the burden of preparing college graduates for today’s workforce falls on colleges and universities.

  1. Despite what college administrators believe, corporations dictate the value of student preparation.  The old saying, “The customer is always right,” rings true when merchants are trying to enlist buy-in and patronage from customers needing specific products and services.  For merchants to tell customers that they have bad taste or don’t understand the value of a product or service is business suicide. If students can’t get hired within their chosen profession, because they lack the essential skills needed by companies, it makes no sense to push back on what companies deem as desired skills from graduates. It is best for college administrators to partner, as well as ask more questions about serving the economic needs of corporate managers. Positioning graduates for the best jobs within their fields creates a win-win situation that leads to better branding and placement results for colleges and universities.
  2. Thought leadership, critical thinking, and subject matter expertise fall under the educational banner.  If corporate managers are grossing over the scarcity of graduates exhibiting critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills, what better way of marketing the student body than by requiring each student to create intellectual property germane to their profession? If colleges are graduating scholars and subject matter experts, not only would corporations engage in bidding wars for these students, but they would also view specific institutions as feeder systems (Think Ivy League schools).  If a college is widely recognized for producing bona fide thought leaders, there would be very little discussion as to whether a college degree is a valid investment.  The return on investments would sell itself.
  3. The survival of colleges hinge on their ability to remain relevant. Today’s economic realities have colleges competing amongst themselves as well as their own viability. When the accounting giant Ernst & Young determined it saw no correlation between a college degree and corporate success, it questioned the future viability of colleges.  What if corporations determined they would create their own colleges where they could mold students into their own corporate images? They could set their educational unit up as a nonprofit institution and have students apply for governmental student loans. Every student would automatically be hired upon graduation into its corporation.  Talk about educational reform and economic development in one fell swoop.  This would quash all the challenges companies currently face with new hires, as well as create a totally new profit center and feeder system for corporations.

decision making process

The best way educators can prove that students have the necessary critical thinking skills to meet the needs of the workforce is for students to become budding thought leaders by building intellectual property.

This evidence-based concept would require a few steps.

First, determine the pain points that currently exist within a given profession or industry. Every profession and industry has some problems that need to be solved by using diagnostics and analyses. By reading periodicals and industry magazines, students can become aware of the challenges within a profession and begin documenting possible solutions through a critical thinking method taught by educators. Currently, the leading critical thinking models are RED and the IBAR Critical Thinking Method. The best way of evaluating the value of a critical thinking method is to determine if it produces a feasible outcome. In other words, an effective critical thinking method should set the practitioner up to create intellectual property that solves specific problems or the method is merely a brain exercise. With corporate managers demanding employees with better decision-making and problem skills, intellectual property derived from an effective critical thinking method is a great way of making the case.

Second, use different formats to document solutions for creating intellectual property.  Articles, books, podcasts, and videos are an excellent format for creating intellectual property, as well as establishing a track record.  In fact, what better way to connect with corporate managers and decision-makers than to interview them for independent research and forward the findings to them for consideration?  By acting like thought leaders within an industry, students are demonstrating that they are “movers and shakers” who don’t wait around for opportunities, they actually create them.

Finally, use social media platforms to publish works, particularly in industry-related LinkedIn groups.  Social media allows students to broadcast industry solutions directly to the individuals most affected.  The beauty of social media is that students only need one influencer to recognize the value of their offerings to gain traction. Additionally, Students can build a total thought leadership strategy on LinkedIn, which places all intellectual property in one place. With over 450 million LinkedIn members, students can create an information ecosystem and never have to leave the LinkedIn domain. Students can then create websites as backups for their LinkedIn portfolio as a knowledge management system. Where individuals once had to rely on “peer reviewed” journals and other media to position themselves as experts, social media allows individuals to publish well-researched articles in social media for the world to decide its value.

Educational reform, skills gaps, and the value of a college education will continue to be discussed in the coming years. If educators become more proactive by innovating and systematizing educational methods that produce measurable outcomes, not only will they upend the status quo, but they will also reinvent the face of education in a competitive and economic world.

Edward S. Brown III

 

References

Brown, E. (2016, June 28). How college graduates can enter their professions on top. LinkedIn Pulse. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-college-graduates-can-enter-profession-top-edward-brown?trk=mp-reader-card.

Brown, E. (2016, July 29). Why workforce education should be important to all educators. LinkedIn Pulse. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-workforce-education-should-important-educators-edward-brown?trk=mp-reader-card.

Brown, E. (2016, October). How intellectual property helps students become influential before they get hired. LinkedIn Pulse. Retrieved from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-intellectual-property-helps-students-become-before-edward-brown?trk=mp-reader-card.