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Employers Value Skills over Certifications

A survey conducted in January 2013 by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) found that that critical thinking, problem solving and communication skills are among the most important factors that employers consider when hiring new graduates. Possession of these skills is considered more important than the candidate’s choice of discipline, according to the surveyed employers.

A report on the survey, released this week, outlines the opinions of 318 executives from non-profit and private organizations. 90 percent of the executives said they prefer hiring skilled post-secondary graduates who are able to contribute to the innovation and growth of the company.

The report, titled “It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success,” states that while 67 percent of executives agree that many post-secondary graduates are prepared for entry-level positions, only 44 percent thought these graduates have the skills required to move to higher levels within the organization.

AAC&U explains that employers value a blended model of learning that includes a variety of applied techniques. Many employers said they would prefer that higher education institutions incorporate this blended learning model — integrating community engagement, problem solving, internships and research methods — into their curricula. The report indicates that surveyed employers value candidates who have practiced applied skills over those who have only gained the theory.

“Notable proportions of business and non-profit leaders say they are already partnering with two-year and four-year colleges to advance the success of college students after graduation,” the report reads. “Those who are not express interest in doing so to provide more hands-on learning opportunities and to help college students successfully make the transition from college into the workplace.”