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  • The Four Career Competencies Employers Value Most

    March 29, 2019 | By NACE Staff

    Competencies
    A group of young professionals in the workplace.

    TAGS: competencies, trends and predictions, surveys, spotlight

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    What career readiness competencies do employers value most in their new college hires? Employers responding to NACE’s Job Outlook surveys have consistently indicated that critical thinking/problem solving, teamwork/collaboration, professionalism/work ethic, and oral/written communications are all essential competencies.

    The top four competencies have remained consistent the past three years. When rating the eight NACE Career Readiness Competencies by essential need in the Job Outlook 2019 survey, critical thinking/problem solving once again tops the list. (See Figure 1.)

    Teamwork/collaboration, professionalism/work ethic, and oral/written communications fall second through fourth, as they did last year. All of the four top-rated competencies are rated above “essential.”

    However, the competencies that are rated between “somewhat essential” and “essential” have changed order. This year, digital technology is the fifth most essential competency, according to respondents, and leadership is sixth. This is interesting since the Job Outlook 2019 survey found that leadership skills were also lower on this year’s list of attributes that employers look for on a student’s resume.

    The final two competencies—career management and global/multi-cultural fluency—remain in the same order, but their average ratings fell.

    In terms of proficiency, employers gave students slightly higher marks on all eight competencies
    this year, but all ratings still fall in the range between “somewhat proficient” and “very proficient.”
    Employers feel that recent graduates are most proficient in teamwork/collaboration, digital
    technology, and critical thinking/problem solving. (See Figure 2.)

    Data for the Job Outlook 2019 survey were collected from August 1, 2018, through October 8, 2018. A total of 172 surveys were returned—an 18.5 percent response rate. The Job Outlook 2019 report is available free to members through MyNACE. Nonmembers can purchase the report through the NACE Store.

    Figure 1: Employers rate the essential need of the career readiness competencies

    Competencies Weighted Average Rating*
    2019 2018 2017
    Critical thinking/problem solving 4.66 4.62 4.58
    Teamwork/collaboration 4.48 4.56 4.43
    Professionalism/work ethic 4.41 4.46 4.56
    Oral/written communications 4.30 4.30 4.43
    Digital technology 3.84 3.73 3.78**
    Leadership 3.65 3.82 3.86
    Career management 3.38 3.46 3.47
    Global/multi-cultural fluency 2.78 3.01 2.85
    Source: Job Outlook 2019, National Association of Colleges and Employers. *5-point scale, where 1=Not essential, 2=Not very essential, 3=Somewhat essential, 4=essential, 5=Absolutely essential. **This competency was called “information technology application” in the Job Outlook 2017 report.

    Figure 2: Employers rate recent graduates on the eight career readiness competencies

    Competencies Weighted Average Rating*
    2019 2018 2017
    Teamwork/collaboration 3.83 3.82 3.96
    Digital technology 3.76 3.71 3.92**
    Critical thinking/problem solving 3.64 3.58 3.59
    Oral/written communications 3.49 3.39 3.41
    Professionalism/work ethic 3.47 3.35 3.43
    Leadership 3.31 3.28 3.38
    Global/multi-cultural fluency 3.13 2.94 2.93
    Career management 3.05 3.01 3.09
    Source: Job Outlook 2019, National Association of Colleges and Employers. *5-point scale, where 1=Not at all proficient, 2=Not very proficient, 3=Somewhat proficient, 4=Very proficient, 5=Extremely proficient. **This competency was called “information technology application” in the Job Outlook 2017 report.