Skills Matter More Than College Major, Employer Survey Finds


As colleges nationwide face increasing pressure to focus on job preparation—with Florida even considering reduced tuition for in-demand majors—there’s some good news today for liberal arts students. According to a new Association of American Colleges and Universities survey, 93 percent of employers say skills are more important than college majors in the hiring process.

The Hart Research Associates survey included 318 executive-level employers from the private and nonprofit sectors. Overall, it paints a positive picture of employers’ attitudes toward the liberal arts:

  • After reading a description of a 21st-century liberal arts education, 74 percent of the employers said they would recommend such an education as the best way to prepare for success.
  • 80 percent of employers agree that all college students need to acquire broad knowledge of the arts and sciences, regardless of major.
  • More than three in four employers said colleges should place more emphasis on key skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and written and oral communication.

AACU vice president for policy and public engagement Debra Humphreys told Inside Higher Ed that employers want the whole package—workers with job-specific expertise plus a broad knowledge base.

“Narrow technical skills have a shorter and shorter lifespan, and a lot of employers are … aware of that,” Humphreys said. “[Employers] want evidence [that] graduates have some aptitude in field-specific skills, but what’s more important to them is broad, cross-cutting capacity.”

Read the complete survey below:


Photo by Drew Saunders on Flickr.


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