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Employers Demanding Soft Skills

A college degree definitely improves employment options, but finding a good job is still a challenge. As of October 2013, the national unemployment rate was 7.3 percent according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. College graduates had a rate of 7.9 percent in a May 2013 study conducted by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. While these unemployment numbers are down from 10 percent rates between 2009 and 2011, what is more alarming is that 36.7 percent of all recent graduates who were employed were working at jobs that don’t require a degree according to a study conducted by Northwestern Universities Center for Labor & Market Studies.

The reason that recent graduates may be finding difficulty in obtaining employment in their field of study is a lack of “soft skills.” Soft skills include written and oral communication, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, making decisions and solving problems, planning, organizing, and working with diverse groups of people and leading teams. A lack of soft skill development was cited as a barrier to employability by an overwhelming majority of the over 700 employers interviewed in a Maguire & Associates survey published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

To combat the lack of these skills, students who want to become gainfully employed in their field of study may have to look at more than merely completing their classes at a high level. One way to do this is to become involved in an organization or club at UCC.

“Students looking to maximize their college education and gain practical real world experience should seriously consider involvement in one of the student organizations or clubs available at UCC,” said Marjan Coester, director of student life and adviser for Phi Theta Kappa.

The educational advantages to becoming a club member or better yet filling a club leadership position are immeasurable. Organizations and clubs provide students with the opportunity to apply principles and theories they learn in the classroom to solving problems often encountered in a professional setting according to Coester.

UCC currently has 10 clubs or organizations available. Each offers opportunities to enhance the soft skills that many employers crave.  In addition to the development of professional traits, every club comes with a faculty or staff advisor, which in practicality equates to students involved in club participation receiving tuition-free education.