Sam Caucci: Colleges need to do a better job of preparing students for the job market
We are in the midst of a crisis. Talked about often yet rarely examined, more than half of America’s college graduates are unemployed or underemployed. And those lucky enough to find any type of employment often find themselves in positions that require a high school diploma or less. Why is that? This generation of graduates may soon be called another lost generation.
As the founder of a sports sales training and consulting firm, I have seen this storyline all too often. Students enter the field unprepared and unable to perform the functions that would ensure their success. They assume jobs are plentiful and an application is all that stands in their way from gaining entry into the field. This is not the case. Job opportunities are few and far between, especially in today’s economic times. Especially in the sports industry, companies and professional teams opt for unpaid interns to handle workload with the expectation that their turnover really doesn’t cost them anything. The reality is that it costs everybody tremendously. Moreover, students enter the workplace with a silver spoon mentality. Everybody wants the corner office on the first day. This is not reality. Students must come to learn that internships and other entry-level roles are critical entry ways to full-time employment, and that no job is too small or mundane. This is also while companies must learn that it is their responsibility to actually invest time and training into these new hires to ensure their success.
As our society has become increasingly wired via social networks, students have lost the ability to interact face-to-face. This is a problem. Business deals are still done with a shake of the hand and not the click of a mouse; this is especially true in revenue generating positions, which presently dominate the available opportunities in every industry.
What colleges and universities need to do is offer more practical simulation based training programs that prepare students to perform the functions that are expected of them when they are hired. For example, though over 400 universities across the US offer sports management programs that drive students towards careers working with professional sports teams, these programs do not train students in the practical skills necessary to be successful in sales or other related sports management areas. Understanding the principles and strategies for communicating to and influencing a customer are critical functions that students are not learning in the classroom. The time to enact change is now. With better training and a more focused programming aimed at fundamental skills for real world job opportunities, students will be better equipped and in a better position to grow and thrive. If we do not enact change now, then when?
Sam Caucci is the founder of Sales Huddle Group Inc. Online at www.thesaleshuddle.com.