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Report: Graduates Uncertain About Workforce Readiness Because of AI

Cengage Group's third annual employability report, "AI Joins the Workforce," asked employers and graduates questions about how AI is impacting job skills requirements and whether graduates feel prepared for them. Their responses suggest a "quickly shifting employment landscape" of different hiring priorities, the report noted.

Cengage Group polled 1,000 recent degreed and non-degreed graduates and 1,000 employers. Major findings indicate that:

  • 52% of recent graduates wonder whether they are ready for the workforce because of the growth of AI;
  • 57% of employers feel that some entry-level jobs and teams could be replaced by AI;
  • 68% feel that employees will need to re-skill in the next three to five years in order to meet job requirements;
  • 50% of employers (as opposed to 62% in the 2022 report) say they require degrees for entry-level jobs, while 33% say they require a skills training credential (as opposed to 26% in 2022);
  • 41% of graduates feel their higher education program taught them needed skills for their first job (as opposed to 63% in 2022); and
  • 58% of graduates feel employers should work more closely with colleges to prepare students for employment.

Employers (66%) say that because AI is expected to take over more rote tasks, they are requiring different skills when hiring, the report noted, calling them "uniquely human" or "soft" skills, such as emotional intelligence, negotiation, persuasion, and communication.

Although the report concluded that higher education needs to do a better job of preparing students for current and future jobs after graduation (nearly half of all graduates say they expect their educational institution to place them in jobs upon graduation), employers (48%) say they are willing to step up and take on some of the tasks of upskilling new talent. They feel that a degree is less important now than skills training, and are seeing more value in non-degreed training and certification programs.

"Graduates should consider augmenting their education with AI-focused training to enhance their employability, and employers should recognize the value of a diverse talent pool that includes individuals with both technical knowledge and essential soft skills," the report concluded. "By adapting to these changes, both graduates and employers can navigate the evolving job market."

Go to this Cengage Group page to read and download the full report.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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