Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

Career Outcomes

Experiential learning courses emphasize many of the skills prized by a wide array of employers. Here are some findings that directly correlate experiential learning with what employers are looking for in new hires:

Innovation is a priority for employers today

  • Nearly all employers surveyed (95 percent) say they give hiring preference to college graduates with skills that will enable them to contribute to innovation in the workplace.
  • More than nine in ten agree that “innovation is essential” to their organization’s continued success.
  • Employers recognize capacities that cut across majors as critical to a candidate’s potential for career success, and they view these skills as more important than a student’s choice of undergraduate major.
  • Nearly all those surveyed (93 percent) agree that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major.”
  • More than nine in ten of those surveyed say it is important that those they hire demonstrate ethical judgment and integrity, intercultural skills, and the capacity for continued new learning.
  • More than three in four employers say they want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop five key learning outcomes: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written communication, oral communication, and applied knowledge in real-world settings.
  • Employers endorse several educational practices as potentially helpful in preparing college students for workplace success. These include practices that require students to 1) conduct research and use evidence-based analysis; 2) gain in-depth knowledge in the major and analytic, problem-solving, and communication skills; and 3) apply their learning in real-world settings.

Employers recognize the importance of liberal education and the liberal arts

  • The majority of employers agree that having both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge is most important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success. Few think that having field-specific knowledge and skills alone is what is most needed for individuals’ career success.
  • Eighty percent of employers agree that, regardless of their major, every college student should acquire broad knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences.
  • When reading a description of a twenty-first century liberal education, a large majority of employers recognize its importance; 74 percent would recommend this kind of education to a young person they know as the best way to prepare for success in today’s global economy.

Employers endorse a blended model of liberal and applied learning

  • Across many areas tested, employers strongly endorse educational practices that involve students in active, effortful work including collaborative problem solving, internships, research, senior projects, and community engagements. Employers consistently rank outcomes and practices that involve application of skills over acquisition of discrete bodies of knowledge. They also strongly endorse practices that require students to demonstrate both acquisition of knowledge and its application.

Employers think that more college graduates have the skills and preparation needed for entry-level positions than for advancement

  • A majority of employers (56 percent) express satisfaction with the job colleges and universities are doing to prepare graduates for success in the workplace, but more than two in five indicate room for improvement.
  • Two in three employers (67 percent) believe most college graduates have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in entry-level positions, but think only 44 percent of college graduates have what is required for advancement and promotion to higher levels.

Employers express interest in e-portfolios and partnerships with colleges to ensure college graduates’ successful transition to the workplace

  • In addition to a resume or college transcript, more than four in five employers say an electronic portfolio would be useful to them in ensuring that job applicants have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their company or organization.
  • Notable proportions of business and nonprofit leaders say they are already partnering with two- and four-year colleges to advance the success of college students after graduation. Those who are not currently involved in such partnerships express interest in doing so to provide more hands-on learning opportunities and to help college students successfully make the transition from college into the workplace.