A few universities in Great Britain and Holland are moving away from specialization. The argument being that the modern economy requires increasing flexibility and forward thinking. Is this change the sign of a new trend?
Who is Getting Hired in Today’s Labor Market?
Tom Friedman writes today in the NYT about a
new kind of HR/job training company – a start-up focused on bridging the gap between
job-seekers and job-creators in the so-called “new” economy. Citing the CEO, Eleonora Sharef: “The market is broken on
both sides… Many applicants
don’t have the skills that employers are seeking, and don’t know how to
get them. But employers also … have unrealistic expectations.” “In
economy, you have to prove yourself, and we’re an avenue for candidates
to do that.”
The good news is that job recruiters in many companies are not fixated on specific majors; any degree is in play, including humanities and liberal arts degrees. This news corresponds to current labor research and to what I’m regularly told by recruiters. What today’s labor
market values is effective communication, people skills, creativity and problem-solving capacities, no matter how or
where these capacities are acquired.
These, of course, are precisely the skills that humanities and liberal arts students learn to cultivate. Their problem is different: they lack the immediately marketable technical skills to land the first job. According to Sharef, “A degree document is no longer a proxy for
the competency employers need.”
This gap between market requirements and educational deficits is structural and likely to remain in place since most university curricula are not designed with this hybridity in mind. In the meantime, new companies like the one Friedman writes about are likely to flourish… unless university leaders and the advising/career services community respond with creative solutions of their own.
Why Is an Internship Crucial? Watch This Short Video
“The Pulse of the Humanities” on Classical 89 Radio
Listen to Markus Smith, Matt Wickman and Scott Sprenger discuss the current state of the humanities in the U.S.
Classical 89 Airing Show on the Current State of the Humanities
The Humanities, Terrorism and the American Ideal
From a speech by Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Director, National Humanities Center
Bruce Cole, appeared at the inauguration of the new governor of the
State of Mississippi, one of the most deeply conservative states in the
union, to state that the humanities speak to “what makes us human: the
legacy of our past, the ideas and principles that motivate us, and the
eternal questions that we still ponder.” When you think about it, he
said, this was what the 9-11 bombers were really attacking, and what the
brave firemen and policemen who came to the aid of the survivors were
defending. As Cole put it, “the values implicit in the study of the humanities are part of why we
were attacked on September 11. The free and fearless exchange of ideas,
respect for individual conscience, belief in the power of education . .
. all these things are anathema to our country’s enemies.
Understanding and affirming these principles is part of the battle. Today, it is especially urgent that we study American institutions,
culture and history. Defending our democracy demands more than
successful military campaigns. It also requires an understanding of the ideals, ideas and institutions that have shaped our country.”
See full speech here: http://hum21.ku.dk/humanities_in_a_new_millenium/geoffrey_galt_harpham/. .