Need a Job? Take this College Course at George Mason University


In 2015, Deloitte, a popular brand that caters to professionals in independent firms, published a report on the Skills Gap Survey of 2015 and Beyond1.

In it, Deloitte reveals that the gap is widening, and that “the skills gap is expected to result in 2 million of those jobs going unfilled”.

For the past few years, unemployment has been plaguing the younger generation, termed “millennials”; yet, this doesn’t coincide with the unfilled jobs that survey companies are reporting.

Jeffrey Selingo, author of There Is Life After College, says, “Some 15% of mail carriers have a four-year credential, as do one in five clerical and sales workers and 83,000 bartenders.”

“The decades-long march to college for everyone at 18 has actually closed off rather than opened up options for teenagers and twenty-somethings,” Selingo continues in a discussion about how many students have skills that could be more useful in fields other than the usual college degrees – fields like manufacturing, where the skills gap mentioned in the Deloitte survey is negatively affecting the economy.

Marie Atrim, vice president of talent acquisition at Enterprise, revealed in a Washington Post article, that the company hires more entry-level college graduates than any other group in the country, but that executives still find most college graduates lacking in some basic skills needed in the workplace.

“This is a generation that has been ‘syllabused’ through their lives,” Atrim continued, talking about how college students are rarely taught to take the initiative in innovation, critical thinking, and decision-making.

A 2013 – 2014 Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) test conducted to 32,000 students at different colleges all over the country revealed that 40% of college seniors failed in the tests that require complex reasoning skills, which are highly needed if new graduates want to land a good job in today’s economic market.

There is clearly a need to address the disconnection between the college students’ education and the skills they need to succeed in the workplace. Well, one university decided to remedy the situation.

Dedra Faine, at George Mason University in Washington DC, teaches a six-week course called “Professionalism and Civility”, where students learn about proper dining etiquette, proper behavior in the workplace, and how to handle difficult colleagues and customers.

The course also emphasizes teaching “social networking with an emphasis on the cultural needs for honoring commitments obligation”.

Last year, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) released a report by the Hart Research Associates titled “Falling Short? College Learning and Success”.

The findings reveal that surveyed employers gave college students very low grades on nearly all of the 17 learning outcomes discussed in the study.

Ninety-six percent (96%) of these employers agreed that the students “should have experiences that teach them how to solve problems with people whose views are different from their own.”

Only about one quarter of the employers were satisfied with the students’ performance in most of the learning outcomes.

At George Mason University, one of the students who took the professionalism course was hospitality major Deborah Popp, as it was mandatory for her degree. She admitted that her idea of “professionalism” was “turning things in on time”.

After taking it, though, Popp said she realized how important the course was for college students planning to dive into the job market successfully.


Rob Clark admin staff managing editor

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