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Employers’ ratings of importance of skills and competencies college graduates need to get hired: Evidence from the New England region of USA

Anthony M. Baird (Charlton College of Business, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA)
Satyanarayana Parayitam (Department of Management and Marketing, Charlton College of Business, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, USA)

Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 28 March 2019

Issue publication date: 12 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Higher education institutions play an important role in the economic growth of any country, through skills and productivity of their graduates. Employers have some expectations about the skills the graduates possess when they graduate out of universities. The purpose of this paper is to examine the skills employers look for in graduates before they hire them.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a structured survey instrument, this paper gathered data from 50 organizations employing over 50 people. The data consisted of 21 skills the employers rate as important. These skills were categorized into four dimensions: analytical skills, career professional and readiness skills, communications skills, and personality, leadership skills and team/group work. After checking the reliability of the scale, χ2 test and rank correlation were used to analyze the importance of these skills.

Findings

The findings from a study of employers in the northeastern part of USA suggest that the top six skills and competencies rated with highest importance by employers were: interpersonal skills/works well with others; critical thinking/problem-solving skills; listening skills; oral/speech communication skills; professionalism; and personal motivation. Of all 21 skills, the highly ranked skills needed were interpersonal skills followed by critical thinking and problem solving and listening.

Research limitations/implications

The present research is based on self-report measures and, hence, the limitations of social desirability bias and common method bias are inherent. However, adequate care is taken to minimize these limitations. The research has implications for the higher educational institutions and researches in the field of education.

Practical implications

In addition to the employers, this study contributes to higher educational institutions. The study suggests that employers look for interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills before making hiring decisions. Educational institutions need to focus on enhancing these skills in classrooms by emphasizing the teamwork. The implications for both academicians and practitioners are discussed in the paper.

Social implications

The findings from the study help in creating a fruitful social environment in organizations.

Originality/value

This study provides new insights about the changing pattern of skills students need to secure before seeking employment.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their helpful comments for enriching the manuscript.

Citation

Baird, A.M. and Parayitam, S. (2019), "Employers’ ratings of importance of skills and competencies college graduates need to get hired: Evidence from the New England region of USA", Education + Training, Vol. 61 No. 5, pp. 622-634. https://doi.org/10.1108/ET-12-2018-0250

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited