More and more employers are finding that young graduates applying for work are lacking basic skills necessary for the job.
That’s according to Harvey Weingarten, President of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.
He joined the The Jon McComb Show to talk about young grads wanting to enter the workforce, and what he sees is lacking.
“We follow the surveys that are taken of employers where they’re asked what skills they are looking for in new hires and what those 20 or so of the most recent surveys tell us is that they’re converging in a very consistant way in a set of skills that they’re look for in their new hires, and at times they are having trouble finding”
Skills students lack
- Communications skills
- Problem solving
- Critical thinking
He also say that instead of looking for personality and behavioral skills, like the ability to work in teams, employers are looking for the ability to be resilient and adaptable in the workplace.”
Where are we going wrong?
With so many people looking for work or wanting a specific job, why is it so hard to find someone with those skills?
Weingarten says we might not even know for sure what that reason is.
“Part of the trouble is we don’t know if we’re going wrong, and if we are, to what degree we are going wrong. Although we measure these skills in the elementary and secondary system, like literacy and numeracy, we don’t typically measure these skills in a direct way in our colleges and our universitys.”
LISTEN to the full interview with Harvey Weingarten:
What’s the solution?
“The way to find out how well we’re doing, and if we need to improve, where to find opportunities for improvement, is to go and to measure these skills directly. The good news is, tests have been developed that are used around the world, have been used in Canada, some which have been developed in Canada.”
The tests Weingarten is talking about measure literacy, numeracy and problem solving. Weingarten also says it’s not just about if you can read and write, but it’s the issue whether you can extract information from text, whether you can interpret the meaning of numbers to solve numbers.
“It’s one of the things we hope students would learn as part of their education, and we hope to develop these things”.
Students also want these tools
Weingarten also says it isn’t just employers looking for student graduates to have these skills, but students themselves also want these skills, especially with the high cost of tuition and the amount of time they put into getting a degree.
“Students attend a college or university program. They spend 2, 3, 4 years of their lives in these programs. They pay tuition and fees and they are looking to see, “what are the skills and attributes I’m getting as a result of this education?”
He also says these aren’t just skills for the workplace, but they are also life skills which are valuable outside of the classroom.
Groundbreaking test coming to Ontario
The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario will conduct a test this fall.
“This is a test that is available online, it takes about 90 minutes, students can take it anywhere. They get a code, they sit down, they take this test, and it measures literacy, numeracy and problem solving. When a student finishes this test online, they submit it electronically and students get a pretty comprehensive report.”
He says the report will tell them how students compare to others in Canada, as well as to students around the world. It would also show them various levels. There are levels 1-5, with level 3 being the basic competency to manage this world.