Wed, Mar 21, 2012 10:22 AM
Our graduates are being shortchanged. The workplace they are
entering is the most challenging it has been in decades. By
comparison, the workplace those who are responsible for education
policy, funding, administration and delivery entered, was a piece
of cake. These people have no affinity whatever with the challenges
today's graduates are facing.
Tom Friedman, the bestselling author and New York Times columnist
met recently with Prem Kalra, the director of the new Indian
Institute of Technology in Rajasthan. He told Friedman that he
tells recruiters for major companies to stay away from his campus.
He wants his Indian students to think about inventing their first
jobs, not applying for them.
That's exactly what we should be doing. Instead, our colleges and
universities keep turning out graduates who expect that someone is
going to offer them a job and when that doesn't happen, many end up
unemployed or in low paying jobs in the service sector. The
fundamental challenge is that for generations we have been turning
out employees. Now, increasingly, we have to turn out entrepreneurs
or graduates who have an enterprising approach to finding
The area of career/employment counseling needs a complete overhaul
with an objective of meeting the needs of today's graduates. A
Canadian graduate who sought help summed up her experience by
saying that "I decided I really didn't want to speak to the nice
lady who had been doing that job for the last twenty years."
Our graduates need access to people who are experienced in today's
workplace and who can show them how to market themselves
effectively to employers and how to create their own jobs as
freelancers, consultants, or small business owners. Showing
graduates how to succeed in today's workplace should be an integral
part of their education, not an option as it currently is. And we
need more resources in this area.
Graduates can't wait for the education system to enter the
twenty-first century; they need to take charge of their own
success. And, with a little bit of help, they're absolutely capable
of doing that.
Ron McGowan is the author of the international bestseller "How to
Find WORK in the 21st Century", currently in use at over 400
colleges and universities worldwide.