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Should Universities Find Jobs for Their Graduates?

By Ron McGowan

This was the “Question of the day” CNN posed for its’ viewers on April 4, 2013. It’s a question that is increasingly being asked, in different ways, by graduates, their families, and the public. It’s a question we should have been asking at least twenty years ago. If we had, we would have significantly fewer unemployed/underemployed graduates today. Universities have been shortchanging their graduates for years and the main culprits are the senior bureaucrats who are in charge of our education system and the senior administrators in charge of our post secondary institutes.

These people have never missed a paycheck in their lives and their own work environment doesn’t look any different from what it did fifty years ago. They have no affinity whatever with the challenges their graduates are facing in trying to find meaningful employment in today’s workplace.

Here are a few examples of how universities/colleges can help their graduates:

In 2011, Tom Friedman, the bestselling author and New York Times columnist, was in India where he met Prem Kalra, the director of the Indian Institute of Technology in Rajasthan. He told Friedman that he tells recruiters for major companies to stay away from his campus. He wants his Indian students to think about inventing their first jobs, not applying for them.

In the U.K., the heads of five Further Education Colleges are working with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to help their graduates create their own jobs. Fintan Donohue, the head of North Hertfordshire College said: “Everyone is in favour of entrepreneurship, but we’re saying is that colleges like ours need to embrace an entrepreneurial culture. We need to be producing students who embrace self-employment and who are prepared to walk out and create their own businesses.

Bloomberg Businessweek reported in 2012 that six U.S. undergraduate business schools require students to attend classes that prepare them for the process of finding work. Most significantly, these classes are embedded in the curriculum and students must complete them, just like all their other classes, before they can graduate.

In World War II, the U.S. was facing a critical shortage of ships. Henry Kaiser, the famed industrialist, said he would solve the problem by building ships in six weeks. The experts in the shipbuilding industry said he was a fool; that this was impossible. But he did build his Liberty Ships in six weeks.

That’s the kind of bold, visionary initiative we need to help today’s graduates. It won’t come from the government or the education sector. Not from a politician. Not from a senior bureaucrat. Not from a senior educator: but from another Henry Kaiser.

Ron McGowan is the author of the international bestseller “How to Find WORK – In the 21st Century”. The 2013 edition has just been released by Thames River Press and is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

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