Good oral communication, also known as speaking skills, tops the list of important skills employers are seeking in new hires according to a new survey. But the same managers also say the skills they’re after aren’t easy to find.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities commissioned the survey to find out what skills companies are looking for in college graduates. For the survey they interviewed “business executives” and “hiring managers.” We’re just going to call them all “employers.”
Out of 15 skills, “able to effectively communicate orally” was the most important in new hires. That was followed by “critical thinking/analytical reasoning” and “ethical judgement and decision making.” Oral communication has increased in importance over the past few years, rising to the top spot from fifth place where it reportedly landed in 2015. At that time, “teamwork” apparently came in first.
The survey was designed to gauge how well colleges and universities prepare recent graduates for the workforce. Unfortunately, companies say job candidates aren’t as prepared as one might hope after graduation from university.
While 78% of the employers said the ability to “effectively communicate orally” was very important only 34% said recent college graduates were “well prepared” by their schools to handle related responsibilities.
(Honestly, whoever wrote that survey should hire someone who with good written communication skills. “Able to effectively communicate orally” is a super clunky way of saying “good oral communication.”)
Similar sized gaps were found between desired preparedness and actual preparedness for the top skills.
Employers said they value applied experiences and real-world skills, with 93.5% of employers saying that they would be much or somewhat more likely to hire a recent graduate who has held an internship or apprenticeship. But only 36% think that recent graduates are very well prepared to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world settings.