Students spend over a decade of their lives studying with the hopes that, by the time they leave school and enter the workforce, they will have all the tools they need in order to find employment and become a productive adult who contributes to their society. However, not everyone who has received a degree is prepared to start working.
Are Students Ready for Work?
In the United States, a survey found that only 13 percent of adults say college graduates are equipped to find success in the workplace. Only 5 percent believe that those who finished high school are ready to excel in a professional setting.
There are several reasons why people think that younger generations are just not ready for work. After all, many Americans experienced having to work as a teenager. According to Pew Research, young adults today are less likely to have had a paid summer job compared to their predecessors. For comparison, 57 and 58 percent of young adults in 1948 and 1978 had a paid summer job.
While it is a positive development that more young adults do not have to have a paid summer job, many are concerned that they are not getting the opportunity to gain practical experience. A paid summer job, aside from the extra money, teaches skills that will become useful when they enter the workforce.
The Necessity of Practical Experience
Students in the United States are not the only ones who are getting thrown into the workforce without adequate and relevant training. Many recent graduates do experience a degree of culture shock during their first year or two in the workplace. It is a very different environment compared to school. The expectations are not the same and, therefore, many tend to feel anxious and even terrified.
Many Millennials also end up being disillusioned in their first jobs. How they imagined work would be like versus how it actually is are poles apart. They end up resigning.
This is how practical experience would have been a great help. Although some schools, especially technical-vocational-livelihood (TVL) strands, do provide opportunities for hands-on training to help young people get used to work before they even enter the workforce.
Only through practical experience will they be able to get used to the responsibilities of a professional versus the lifestyle of a student.
Practical Experience and Employability
When young people participate in learning by experience, they benefit by having a smooth transition. Graduating is a major milestone, but it is also a significant life change. People can feel overwhelmed when they have to make a transition, even if it is one that is positive. Adjusting is a challenge, especially to young people.
Having practical experience serves as a bridge between life as a student and what life will be like as an employee. The shock that comes from being thrown into a new situation is lessened. Young people feel more at ease because they have familiarity with the environment and know what is expected of them.
But, practical experience benefits the nation, too. It creates a high-skilled workforce. They gain technical mastery of their chosen profession and, at the same time, develop skills that will help them thrive in the workplace. They become confident of their abilities, they sharpen their problem-solving and communication skills, and they turn into effective collaborators. In short, they become more competitive and in-demand among employers from within the community or across the entire nation.
Plus, young people get hired faster if they have prior work experience, even if it is just an internship or apprenticeship. Employers use these programs to gain access to a pool of talent. At the end of the partnership, usually, the employer offers a full-time position to the best performers, ensuring that graduates have a job after they leave school.
Those who do not immediately get an offer will still benefit from the program. They gain a credential they can add to their resume to set themselves apart from other applicants. Employers look at it as proof that the young person has the right skills and expertise to properly do their job without the need for thorough and extensive training.
When young people get work-based learning, everyone reaps the benefits. The young people participating will have access to opportunities for employment as well as the transition from life as a student to being an employee more seamlessly. On the other hand, the employers gain access to a highly skilled pool of potential employees. The community and the nation produce a valuable workforce capable of achieving great things as professionals.