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Overhaul Needed for Career Services

A new report focused on bridging the gap between higher education and the labor market was published last week. The paper discusses the problems graduates face upon entering the workforce and how institutional career services could be improved to help ameliorate these problems.

Andy Chan, the report’s co-author and vice president for personal and career development at Wake Forest University, said a complete transformation is critical for career services departments.

“That traditional model needs to be totally rethought and resurrected as something different,” he told Inside Higher Ed. “It’s not working.”

The traditional career services model, as Chan describes it, is similar to other offices in an institution where it works in isolation to deliver a very specific service to students.

The report, titled “A Roadmap for Transforming the College to Career Experience,” uses data from a survey of over 800 employers conducted by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University. The survey discovered that while employers thought graduates from liberal arts programs had relevant workplace skills, they lacked many critical technical and professional skills. Moreover, the employers indicated that often, these graduates failed to properly demonstrate their capabilities in interviews.

Suggested in the report is a plan to overhaul the career services model by increasing the number of dedicated staff and integrating help from faculty members and administrators. This proposed solution could offer well-rounded career services that better helps support students with more than just career counseling.

“In the students’ mind it’s one of the most important questions they have when they come to the school,” Chan told Inside Higher Ed. “There are a lot of issues around trying to manage costs, which I completely understand, but the flip side of that question is, how do we continue to create and justify value that matters to our students?”