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  • Competencies: Employers Weigh Importance Versus New Grad Proficiency

    December 03, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

    Competencies
    A new employee, fresh out of college, collaborates with others at his new place of employment.

    TAGS: competencies, surveys, career readiness, nace insights

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Career services offices can help their students stand out and prepare for a successful transition to the workforce by providing programming and resources to help boost their proficiency in critical thinking, communication, and professionalism.

    NACE’s Job Outlook 2022 survey found that these career readiness competencies have the biggest gaps between employer perceptions of importance and student proficiency.

    Nearly all employers indicated that critical thinking and communication are very to extremely important for college graduates to have to enter their workforce. (See Figure 1.)

    However, only slightly more than half—just 55.8% for critical thinking and 54.3% for communication—rated recent graduates either “very proficient” or “extremely proficient” in these competencies. (See Figure 2.)

    While the professionalism competency is not deemed as important for recent college graduates as critical thinking or communication, the differential between professionalism’s importance and graduate proficiency in it is sizable.

    The Job Outlook survey is a forecast of hiring intentions of employers as they relate to new college graduates. Data for the Job Outlook 2022 survey were collected from August 18, 2021, through October 1, 2021. Of the 157 total respondents, 116 were NACE employer members, representing 15.7 percent of eligible member respondents. The Job Outlook 2022 survey was also distributed to nonmember companies from which an additional 41 responses were received. The Job Outlook 2022 report is available in MyNACE.

    Figure 1: Employers rate the importance of and student proficiency in the career readiness competencies

    Competencies Importance: Weighted Average Rating* Proficiency: Weighted Average Rating
    Critical Thinking 4.57 3.68
    Communication 4.56 3.64
    Teamwork 4.49 3.91
    Equity & Inclusion 4.33 3.96
    Professionalism 4.20 3.46
    Technology 4.05 4.07
    Career & Self-Development 3.82 3.39
    Leadership 3.68 3.31
    Source: Job Outlook 2022, National Association of Colleges and Employers. 5-point scale, where 1=Not at all important/proficient, 2=Not very important/proficient, 3=Somewhat important/proficient, 4=Very important/proficient, 5=Extremely important/proficient

    Figure 2: Importance of vs. proficiency in career readiness competencies, by percent of respondents

    Competencies Importance Proficiency Differential
    Critical Thinking 98.5% 55.8% 42.7%
    Communication 98.5% 54.3% 44.2%
    Teamwork 97.7% 77.5% 20.2%
    Equity & Inclusion 85.4% 72.1% 13.3%
    Professionalism 86.9% 44.2% 42.7%
    Technology 81.5% 79.8% 1.7%
    Career & Self-Development 70.0% 35.7% 34.3%
    Leadership 58.5% 33.3% 25.2%
    Source: Job Outlook 2022, National Association of Colleges and Employers. *The percentages corresponding to “importance” represent, among all responding employers, the percentage that, on a five-point scale, indicated that the respective competency was either “very important” (4) or “extremely important” (5) for college graduates to have to enter their workforce. The percentages corresponding to “proficiency” represent, among all responding employers, the percentage that, on a five-point scale, rated recent graduates either “very proficient” (4) or “extremely proficient” (5) in the respective competency.
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