The QA Commons is mindful of the dramatic and transformational impact COVID-19 is having on all institutions of higher education. As an organization, we are adapting our services to support preparing graduates for the workplace that is now changing more precipitously than ever.
Liberal Arts Majors Have What Employers Are Asking For!
In today’s world of work, employers are looking for adaptable critical thinkers with strong “soft skills.” So say reports from Deloitte, Wall Street Journal, Strada, LinkedIn, and others. These are exactly the skills inherently developed by liberal arts majors like English, philosophy, communications, and modern languages. And yet, these enrollments are declining year after year.
Headlines proclaiming “The End of the English Major,” “Is the endangered liberal arts major worth saving?,” and “Why Liberal Arts Education is Really Pragmatic” make the rounds every year–continuing the conversation about why a broad education is or is not useful for today’s employment landscape. It is easy to understand these concerns – especially when comparing liberal arts with more career-tracked fields like engineering, nursing, and data analytics. Such majors provide obvious entry points, as well as higher average starting salaries. But starting salaries are not the whole story. While technical skills are essential for performing specific job tasks, it is soft skills that matter with respect to promotion and career advancement.
In a recent Forbes article, Christomer Rim helps explain the disconnect that seems to exist: “Liberal arts colleges and their faculty often cannot articulate to prospective students the value of liberal arts education as a pedagogical approach rather than simply a disciplinary focus, which produces graduates who also struggle to relay to prospective employers this value.” We agree! Although there is a strong match between skills taught in liberal arts degrees and employer needs, the inability to articulate those connections does a disservice to graduates.
QA Commons helps faculty, students, and employers make connections with respect to the skills that learners have developed and their relevance to the workplace. If there is one thing we’ve learned over the past five years of this work, it is that awareness matters. Liberal arts students develop the kinds of skills that employers need as automation and AI take hold. The need for workers trained to execute a rote skill is diminishing. Rather, the need for team members who can communicate, think, learn, and adapt is on the rise.
We welcome the opportunity to work with liberal arts programs and their faculty to better showcase how they are educating the innovators who bring such value to our workplaces and to the ever changing world around us.
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