Gallup: Business Leaders Value Knowledge Over College

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At a time when college tuition rates are at an all time high, no one wants to hear that investments in higher education institutions are not paying off. Recent research from Gallup doesn’t exactly suggest that claim, but it certainly doesn’t offer any encouraging news for college students and their parents who are frequently footing the university bill. In its report that Gallup published Wednesday, researchers worked to determine whether business leaders believe U.S. colleges prepare students for the working world post-graduation. The verdict? Not so much.

Gallup’s study helped gauge business leaders’ perceptions of higher education in the U.S., and according to its findings, only about one-third of business leaders surveyed agreed with the statement “higher education institutions in this country are graduating students with the skills and competences that my business needs.” About a third disagreed with the statement, taking into account the 17 percent of leaders who strongly disagreed, while another third gave a neutral response. Gallup gathered its results by conducting a telephone survey with 623 U.S. business leaders from November 25 to December 16 of 2013. The consulting firm made sure that its sample was nationally representative of businesses in the U.S. by mapping its responses via minimum quotas by sales revenue.

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The report’s results are arguably concerning for the families placing their children in higher education institutions solely for the purpose of preparing them for the business world, but what’s also interesting is the disconnect Gallup highlighted between what business leaders say they need and what higher education institutions think they are outputting. According to Gallup, one of its separate studies found that 96 percent of chief academic officers at higher education institutions said their institution is very or somewhat effective at preparing students for the world of work. Based on business leaders’ answers to Gallup’s most recent survey, it would appear they disagree.

What are college grads missing, according to business leaders? Gallup says that business leaders maintain the assertion that current grads don’t have the skills their particular business need such as applicable knowledge and applied skills in the field. This has led businesses to employing international graduate students in the U.S., because these grads tend to show a more impressive set of skills.

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