Introduction: Post-Secondary Education and Job Expectations
Starting a post-secondary education (PSE), be it in a college or university, students typically seek to expand the range of knowledge and skills acquired at high school to create the platform for the professional growth. However, when entering a job market, college and university graduates may realize that the job requirements for a position in the selected area may differ significantly from the knowledge and skills acquired during studying (Kaplan and Haenlein 442). The identified phenomenon can be attributed to a vast range of factors, difficulties in changing the established curriculum and teaching process being the key one. For students to be able to perform the tasks required by the companies operating in the global market, one will have to not only introduce respective training in the school curriculum but also encourage learners to develop academic and professional independence. As a result, students will be capable of acquiring new abilities within a rather short time period.
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Post-Secondary Education Experience
The lack of consistency between the expectations of learners and the actual workplace setting can also be explained by the choices that students make when selecting the subjects for their PSE process. Without the actual knowledge of the environment in which they will have to work, students may select the subjects that will not be needed in their further career, at the same time missing the opportunity to choose the subjects that will broaden their professional skill set (Cease-Cook et al. 354).
Therefore, when considering the problems of the contemporary PSE setting, it is necessary to mention the lack of information about the reality of the modern job market in it as the primary reason for concern. It is important to ensure that students are able to systematize the information that they have learned and apply their analytical thinking skills to select the optimum solution for a particular practical problem.
In addition, the absence of directions from teachers regarding the possible challenges that students are likely to face in the workplace is also very alarming.
Finally, while the current academic environment encourages academic independence to a certain degree, it does not inspire learners to develop the ability to be independent in their choices and decision-making in the professional environment. Thus, the focus on promoting academic responsibility and the skill of self-directed education must be deemed as a priority. In this regard, the significance of the students’ ability to use their lifelong learning skills is crucial. The development of the specified ability, however, requires additional support from teachers in the PSE setting. Therefore, even though the experience that students have in the PSE environment might be right and fulfilling, it may still fail to represent the realm of a workplace properly. As a result, when experiencing one, PSE graduates may become confused to the point where they may fail to apply even the skills that they have already learned, such as crucial thinking.
Required Job Qualifications
The disparity in the array of skills and knowledge that PSE graduates have and the list of requirements and competencies that companies set for applicants is very large. At present, very few students without an actual experience in their field of choice are capable of meeting the set responsibilities and performing at the required level of quality. As a rule, the necessity to engage in the active process of interdisciplinary communication is viewed as a crucial requirement in the contemporary workplace setting (Freeman et al. 8431). Because of the focus on individual achievements in a particular area, PSE graduates often turn out to be unable to accomplish the tasks that are given to them, thus, failing to deliver the expected results.
Problems in the Post-Secondary Education
When defining the reasons for the lack of connection between post-secondary education and the requirements set by most employees, one must address the fact that the goals of PSE and a workplace environment have little in common. Particularly, at college or university, students are encouraged to expand their knowledge and train the ability to think critically. While the identified issues are also important in the workplace environment, they are not viewed is the ultimate goal. Instead, the overall improvement of a company’s performance in a target market is deemed as the priority (Morningstar et al. 82). Herein lies the conflict between the expectations of graduates and the demands of organizations.
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In addition, the lack of training associated with a particular career and its further development hinders the professional growth of PSE students. Theoretical principles and postulates that educators teach to PSE students are crucial for the development of a better understanding of professional issues. However, practice is also essential since it gives students an ability to see the complexity of the chosen field and the dilemmas that they will have to address. Furthermore, the necessity to take a vast array of external factors into account is an important skill that PSE students will have to acquire in order to meet their future employers’ standards.
One could argue that the use of theoretical knowledge for resolving a practical concern is derived from the capability of using critical thinking, which is another skill acquired in the PSE context. Indeed, the significance of the ability to analyze information and derive respective conclusions from it is stressed heavily in the post-secondary academic setting. In fact, the emphasis on research, which is very characteristic of the PSE academic environment, can be viewed as the platform for expanding the skills of decision-making and consolidating learned theories into a framework for problem-solving (Means et al. 726). However, although critical thinking is taught in PSE institutions, the practical application thereof is often very detached from the actual context of an organization operating in a global or local market (Freeman et al. 8433). Consequently, the people that have recently graduated form a college or a university and have not yet experienced the environment of an actual job are likely to encounter difficulties when finding one.
Means of Managing the Issue: Changes to Implement
Because of the lack of connection between the expectations set by employers and the set of skills that students acquire when studying in the environment of PSE, a transfer program will have to be created to address the gap between PSE and an actual job. The proposed change will allow making the transitioning from the academic environment to a much more demanding workplace setting significantly easier. To ensure that the program incorporates the required elements and reflects a typical workplace environment fully, college and university boards will have to establish cooperation with the existing job market. As a result, educators will be capable of teaching students the needed information, while the target audience will acquire the relevant skills.
Additionally, changes will have to be made to the contemporary curriculum in most of colleges and universities. The curriculum of PSE institutions will need to incorporate the active practice and assignments requiring practical application of the newly obtained information. As a result, students will be able to meet the quality standards set by employees. Furthermore, alteration will be required in the field of students’ motivation and professional growth. Learners will need encouragement to build independence, curiosity, and willingness to engage in self-directed learning. It is expected that the target population will develop the ability to locate necessary information and resources for training new skills to meet the quality standards set by contemporary organizations.
Finally, counseling services for PSE students who are unable to select a proper set of subjects required for their future job will have to be designed. The proposed innovation will become a chance for learners to find out more about the environment in which they will have to work in the future, as well as the expectations that they should have and problems which they must be prepared to meet. Counseling services may not cover all the issues associated with the gap between PSE and practical use of the acquired skills, yet they will reduce the shock value that students will receive upon entering the job market. As a result, PSE graduates will feel much more confident in the identified setting. Therefore, significant alterations to the curriculum of most academic institutions will have to be made.
Promoting Independence among Students
Because of the need to maintain the quality of performance high in the realm of a contemporary workplace environment, PSE students must be provided with a chance to gain self-directed learning skills. As a result, PSE graduates will be able to locate solutions even to the tasks that they had not faced in the academic setting. Furthermore, the suggested addition to the curriculum will allow supporting the active acquisition of relevant knowledge and skills in a workplace environment.
Moreover, with the proposed solutions, PSE students will be capable of acquiring the skills necessary for interdisciplinary cooperation. Viewed as essential in most modern workplace environments, the identified ability is rarely taught in the PSE context, mainly because of the homogeneity of most subjects (Cease-Cook et al. 355). However, students need to be capable of sharing knowledge, transferring essential information fast, and applying recently developed skills to solve emerging tasks. Consequently, respective changes must be made to the curriculum.
Herein lies the primary difficulty in aligning the PSE program with the requirements of the contemporary job market. While most of organizations recruit employees to perform a specific set of functions in an organizational environment, students must embrace the entire variety of options. At this point, the significance of academic and professional independence must be mentioned. With the focus on the consistent professional growth and the need to engage in the process of multidisciplinary conversation, learners will develop the ability to set goals independently and manage their performance on their own.
Thus, changes in the curriculum must be made to allow students to pay attention to the solution of practical problems and training professional skills in the setting that resembles a real one very closely. To support the development of professional integrity and personal growth in PSE learners, counseling will be required. Moreover, the specified change will encourage PSE students to find out more about the specifics of an actual workplace environment, as well as the existing job market, the demands toward applicants, and other important issues. After learning the information that will help them become more competitive in the context of the global economy, students will meet the expectations of their employees. Although it would be wrong to assume that every choice made by PSE graduates in their new workplace setting will be impeccable, major mistakes will be avoided easily.
Conclusion: Post-Secondary Education and Job Expectations
The lack of connection between the setting in which PSE students learn and the environment of an actual workplace makes the process of transitioning from studying to working extraordinarily difficult for learners. Therefore, changes must be made to the current approach toward teaching PSE students, as well as communication between PSE institutions and the global job market. It is essential for teachers in the PSE setting to ensure that their students will be aware of key challenges that the modern global job market has. Thus, counseling services and practical assignments involving simulations of an actual workplace setting are required.
Additionally, PSE graduates must be able to use their creative and critical thinking in the realm of the workplace to make relevant decisions. Thus, apart from counseling and training, the focus on personal development must be a priority for PSE graduates. The identified change in PSE students’ perspective can be achieved by encouraging academic independence in them and promoting the importance of lifelong learning among the target audience. The resulting alterations in their perspective regarding the challenges of a workplace and their roles and responsibilities within an organizational setting will create the platform for successful career development.
Cease-Cook, Jennifer, et al. “Strategies for Creating Work-Based Learning Experiences in Schools for Secondary Students with Disabilities.” Teaching Exceptional Children, vol. 47, no. 6, 2015, pp. 352-358.
Freeman, Scott, et al. “Active Learning Increases Student Performance in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 111, no. 23, 2014, pp. 8410-8415.
Kaplan, Andreas M., and Michael Haenlein. “Higher Education and the Digital Revolution: About MOOCs, SPOCs, Social Media, and the Cookie Monster.” Business Horizons, vol. 59, no. 4, 2016, pp. 441-450.
Means, Barbara, et al. “STEM‐Focused High Schools as a Strategy for Enhancing Readiness for Postsecondary STEM Programs.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching, vol. 53, no. 5, 2016, pp. 709-736.
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Morningstar, Mary E., et al. “A College and Career Readiness Framework for Secondary Students with Disabilities.” Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, vol. 40, no. 2, 2017, pp. 79-91.