While we have a robust network of student affairs professionals working in career service offices throughout the United States – not equalled anywhere in the world – this has not led to the integration of an employability agenda within the curriculum- or within student support services-on most campuses.
Our patchwork of institutional commitments to fully fund and support offices of career services does not serve our students well (and frustrates their families)– as they are left to find their way into the workforce after graduation without the necessary tools for successful employability. Of course, there are many exceptions around the country, often at land grants and state campuses with degrees in fields that are actively looking for talent in the state or region. And we have our broad network of community colleges whose mission has always served as a bridge to the workforce for low-income and minority students and students in rural areas.
In recent years, campuses have focused on “career integration” due to the immediacy of the debt burden facing students who need to enter the workforce as soon as they graduate. However, as recent surveys point out, the demographic of U.S. college-age students will radically change in coming decades; we will no longer be a majority white nation in the future. As we enter a new decade, students attending our colleges and universities will continue to represent a less privileged class of citizens; this will place greater pressure on our campuses to focus down on preparing a more diverse pool of graduates for the global workforce. Are they ready?
For the latest research reports on the demographics of the U.S. higher ed system, see @GeorgetownCEW and follow @ElspethJones to view the new series by @Routledge on Internationalization in Higher Education. My chapter, “Linking learning abroad and employability,” co-authored with Dr. Cheryl Matherly of Lehigh, appears in the volume, Internationalization and Employability in Higher Education (2019).
And always look for the latest reports and analysis on employability issues and related stories from around the world on my Twitter feeed, @tillman_marty