Many college students are not as prepared for the workforce as they think they are. They are lacking in soft skills such as communication and team work, and in digital technology. Employers believe it’s up to educators to prepare future employees in career development and job skills. Here are some tips for teaching workforce development in your classroom.

College students lacking in soft skills

A survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) found that employers and students do not sync when it comes to skills needed for the workforce. Employers are looking for vital skills like oral communication, written communication, team work, critical thinking and creativity, whereas students believe that the particular education in their major is what employers are looking for. Employers also said students are woefully unprepared in areas like experience in non-US cultures, current global developments, current advances in science and technology, and analysis of complex problems.

“When it comes to the types of skills and knowledge that employers feel are most important to workplace success, large majorities of employers do NOT feel that recent college graduates are well prepared. This is particularly the case for applying knowledge and skills in real-world settings,” said the AACU report in “Well-Prepared in Their Own Eyes” by Scott Jaschik posted January 20, 2015 on Inside Higher Education.

Teaching computer skills

Another area where college students are lacking in job preparedness is in computer skills. Digital knowledge is important in every aspect of the business world and other careers. “Solid technology skills are essential for every student. Teaching digital literacy skills ultimately falls upon educators.

Schools need to go beyond the ‘three R’s’ to improve college and career readiness with technical skills,” said Ray Kelly, CEO of Certiport, a certification testing company, in “Tomorrow’s Workforce: What Students Need” by Sarah W. Caron posted at

Where to look for a job

When looking for a job, students have many options for assistance. Julie G. Levitt and Lauri Harwood explained in Your Career: How to Make It Happen, 8th ed, “The exciting reality of the research process is that there are many ways to approach it, and once you get started, you’ll find many people and types of online resources to help you along the way.

From the campus career center to the Internet to trade journals, these resources are rich sources of information that can help you make smart decisions about career paths and jobs that match your values, interests, and qualifications.”

Networking is key to the job search

Many college students don’t know that the majority of available jobs are not publicized online or even in a newspaper. People learn of job openings through networking with friends, family and other working people. Networking and the connections you make with companies and acquaintances and through internships help you get a foot in the door.

The CengageLearning course Jump-Start Your Career explores the online tool LinkedIn to build a career network with a profile of you and your experience, knowledge, professional and lay accomplishments and even the languages you speak. The course also explains how you can expand business contacts by linking with others in your field, and how to boost your job search and career development strategy with effective resumes, interviewing skills, in-person interviewing, cover letter writing, social media behavior and business etiquette.

Reference: Levitt, Julie G., Lauri Harwood. Your Career: How to Make it Happen, 7th ed. Cengage Learning.

How are you assuring that students are adequately prepared for the workforce?