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The Daily Tar Heel

According to a study released Tuesday by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, many students who think they are prepared for the workforce are not, as employers say they lack necessary skills to be successful.

Amidst the fight to gain experience and a better resume, many students don’t seem to be prepared in the most important areas. Among the skills often missing, according to employers, are oral communication, written communication, critical thinking and creativity.

The study was done online. It surveyed 400 employers and 613 college students.

In oral communication, 62 percent of students said they felt prepared, while only 28 percent of employers thought students were. In another problem area, 57 percent of students considered themselves innovative in the workplace, while only 25 percent of employers agreed.

Ray Angle, director of University Career Services, said he thinks the report is mostly old news.

“That’s probably been something that has existed throughout time,” he said. “Employers want their employees at a certain level of development, and because (students) don’t have as much practical experience, they are not able to fully perform as people who have been working in the institution for years.”

Carrie Johnson, associate director of marketing and media relations of the AAC&U, said the disparity is bad, but it might not be as bleak as the study makes it sound.

“I think that college students can definitely continue to participate in more cumulative projects and internships,” she said. “High impact learning experiences are essential, like those internships and senior projects.”

Johnson said learning experiences should focus on innovation and applying classroom knowledge to real-world experience.

UNC Ph.D. candidate Joe Rigdon said there is a simple fix to not being prepared.

“People spend too much time on their phones,” he said. “Maybe have your head up more and talk to each other.”

Senior Hayley Shelton said students should make time for more job preparation, such as seminars.

“We take all these classes, and it’s a lot of written tests,” she said. “You don’t really get a chance to work on more real-life, practical (things) — like how to talk to employers (and) how to solve interpersonal relationships.”

Angle said students should look to successful people in their career fields and emulate their qualities.

He said students should focus on skills they can apply to everything after they graduate.

“They should focus on innovation and applied learning while in college; applied learning projects should be completed before they are out of college,” he said.

state@dailytarheel.com

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