The title of this post is a paraphrase of a quote by Phil Gardner, director of the Michigan State Collegiate Employment Research Institute, in a piece in the Nov. 20 Chronicle of Higher Education by Justin Doubleday (only viewable by subscribers).
All of us know the national job market is better than it was a few years ago and that the rate of unemployment has come down (although we still have too many people unemployed). And we also know that the most highly educated in American society are least unemployed (although they may believe they are underemployed which is another story). What got my attention was Gardner’s quote and his use of the word, entitlement. He uses it in the context of what employers tell him –that they are searching for talent among college graduates who can “prove that their education will translate into real-world skills.”
Is this a shocking revelation from the subterranean real-world of commerce in America ? Of course not – it’s a message which goes along with changes in the marketplace in the past decade. And it unfortunately is driving questions about the vocationalization of higher education. I’ve written extensively about the need to develop a linkage for students between their international experience and their career development. And I’ve discussed the importance of campuses building bridges between study abroad advising and the advising taking place in career service offices. This is not happening on many campuses and therefore students return home unable to clearly articulate to employers how their overseas experiences have strengthened and widened their skills and competencies.
In broader terms, I think this article is a challenge to the academic community -especially to career service offices – to find a more compelling rationale for how students translate their four years of study in their senior year when they begin job hunting and in their post-graduate job searches. Absent such a rationale, employers may see the act of going to college as not offering bragging rights to anyone. I think PhDs have known this for a long time and now the bad news has trickled down to undergrads…