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.