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Tech. Companies Shun Recent College Graduates

by guest blogger Mike Bock

The New Jersey Technology Council released a survey indicating some technology companies are thinking twice about recruiting recent college graduates for job openings. As opposed to recruiting from local colleges and universities, technology professionals cite a high demand for experienced workers, with 47 percent of businesses responding that they do not hire people straight out of college. More than 150 New Jersey-based technology professionals took part in the survey.

Common sense suggests the economy is playing a big part in slow hiring numbers, but the survey implies that a perceived lack of expertise among new graduates is a contributing factor (a subject we've written about previously.) Smaller companies that can't afford to allocate resources to professional development shy away from job applicants who might need extra time to catch up. The New Jersey Technology Council's blog says:

"Nearly 22 percent of the respondents indicated that they do not have the resources to invest in training and developing their staff. As a result, 13 percent of the companies reported that it is difficult for their employees to stay current with emerging technological advances and nearly 8 percent cannot provide the necessary on-the-job training to keep their team in the forefront of innovation...

"Employers want to hire people that already have the skills and talent needed for the job. Even so, 19 percent of the respondents reported that it is difficult to find candidates with the right skill-set and when they do, there is a lot of competition to hire those people."

These types of responses indicate some college grads don't have the right skills to meet the expectations of the tech industry. An article from The Press of Atlantic City indicated that a gap between what students are taught and what businesses expect could be partly to blame. As The Press reported:

"We see a lot of students coming out of local colleges, but the things they are trained in are not up to par with the technology needs of a small company like ours," said Ajay Gupte, president of the Linwood-based CLCD LLC, which produces children's literature databases for libraries, parents, and teachers. "We would have to train them and bring them up to speed just so they could work for us, but the cost to do that is difficult for us to bear."

Companies claiming that they can't find skilled workers to fill existing job openings is a subject we've written about before. Last fall, Education Week opinion blogger Walt Gardner wrote, "no matter what students studied at college or what their grades were, no graduate is going to be able to hit the ground running once hired. There will always be the need to train even the most talented hires. It's always been that way."

Some politicians, including President Obama, argue that highly skilled teachers could help close the gap between what classrooms teach and what businesses expect. As my colleague Erik Robelen wrote last month, The White House recently announced a multi-million dollar initiative to recruit teachers with more experience in the workforce, an idea that had previously seen support from both sides of the political spectrum.

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