Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Employers Want More H1-B Employees When Half of U.S.College Grads Are Un- and Underemployed

A new report, ironically conducted by university researchers, indicates that more than half of employers are unhappy with today's crop of graduates, for example, that many are seriously lacking in thinking skills, writing, etc.

A study by the Career Advisory Board found that while 72 percent of job seekers are confident they can present the skills needed for a job, just 15 percent of hiring managers have the skills to fill open positions.

That's no surprise because the vast majority of our 1,500 four-year (a misnomer) colleges are now 98.6 schools: virtually all you need to get in is normal body temperature--Have you tried to engage in an intelligent conversation with the typical undergraduate at, say, Middle Tennessee State University?

So, except at the small percentage of elite institutions, professors have been forced to dumb-down classes. leaving the bright bored and the slow still bewildered. Indeed, other studies, notably this major nationwide study found that almost half of college students grow little or not at all in writing and thinking skills.

As a result, an American college degree, despite taking years and costing a true fortune, no longer signifies competence in reading, thinking, etc. It more likely signifies that the student has been liberalized or radicalized, which may demotivate them as employees. Indeed the aforementioned new study speaks of employers frustrated with the today's American college graduates' lack of work ethic.

Is it any wonder why 53.6 percent of college graduates are un- or underemployed at the same time as companies are urging expansion of the H1-B visa program so they can hire more foreigners?

And if that's the state of graduates, imagine what the 46 percent of freshmen are like who, even if given six years, don't graduate?

Macbeth concluded that life is "full of sound and fury and signifying nothing." Might that increasingly be applied to American undergraduate education?


Anonymous said...

This all rings true. I'm almost 32 and have come to accept I'm unemployable. I started replacing my BA in History with an MBA concentrated in Accounting hoping prospects might have improved by now, but they haven't.

The plain and simple reality is that we Americans have priced ourselves out of the market. The Chinese and Indians are willing to work longer hours under less comfortable (and even unsafe) conditions for far less money and with far fewer regulations. The only way employment can come back to the United States in the numbers necessary is for Americans to just accept that the good days are over and free businesses to do whatever they please and accept they will never have any power over a sufficently big business as long as we keep buying their stuff.

Anonymous said...

Just last night, my wife complained that two junior employees at a firm where she is a project manager completely missed a deadline without once mentioning that they were behind (despite repeated check-ins, offers for additional assistance if needed, and reminders of the impending deadline). Their "excuse" was that they're fresh out of school and don't know how to handle the work. My wife was left speechless. Had they never learned to manage time and meet deadlines (or ask for extensions, if needed) in school? Did they not appreciate the impact of their work (or lack thereof) on the office as a whole? And did they not have a feeling of personal pride that would make them dead-set on doing better in the future? Hard to say, but it seems like the answer to all of those questions might be "no."

I think employer dissatisfaction with recent college grads probably hinges a lot more on these problems than on poor writing. Moreover, it's all "of a piece," as my wife likes to say. The value of hard work, competence, dependability...these are traits we learned implicitly from our parents and family. By the time we got to grade school, these values were already part of us. So we took advantage of the opportunities presented to us, worked hard, and improved ourselves. At both our workplaces, our supervisors view us as indispensable, and would probably close down before letting us go. Although we both draw on aspects of our education, we're valued because we have interpersonal skills and take initiative. We didn't learn much of this at college, and it's not appropriate or sensible to expect that we would have.

Others in our generation and younger ones have grown up in a culture of entitlement that insists you should be proud of yourself even if you've never even tried to do something deserving of praise (and let's not forget, the trying is praise-worthy in itself). Their parents did nothing to disabuse people of these dysfunctional ideas, and they (and the rest of us, by extension) are paying the price.

The snake-oil and usurious tactics of some colleges aside, your education, and your life in general, are mostly what you make of them. Focusing on colleges is just part of the atmosphere of entitlement that's the problem in the first place. Instead, focus on self-improvement, self-sufficiency, and responsible parenting. I believe my wife and I were set up for success by having strong values instilled early in life. I feel very lucky to have had a good education, and although I might have been OK without it, I cannot deny that it's created opportunities for me that I wouldn't have had otherwise. But educational opportunities are fairly abundant these days, so the issue is not finding them, but taking advantage of them. Whether you will or not is something that's decided mostly before you enter the classroom. It's all of a piece.

Anonymous said...

You are spot-on about the whole political indoctrination thing!

PS: I hear you talking about China and India, but what are your thoughts on Russia? Do you think they'll be another powerful (re)emerging country?

Marty Nemko said...

I don't have enough knowledge to make an intelligent comment about Russia's future relative to other countries.

Michael said...

Well yes and no...

I think the problem is more a system we have created in the US. The fact is we only see successful, motivated H1-Bers. In addition to that, only a small fraction of most other countries send their students to colleges and universities.

I know from first hand experience in Germany, only students with very good grades, who have been prepped for several years attend the university. I suspect that many we see in the H1-B program come from a similar system.

Here in the states, we have fallen under the delusion that every kid has to go to college to be successful. We have many schools called "colleges" that are little more than extended high schools.

We have dumbed down the value of undergrad degree while at the same time almost requiring our kids to take tens of thousands of student debt for non resistant jobs.

Marty Nemko said...

Precisely, Michael. That's exactly what I wrote in the blog post.


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