USC Aiken Helps Students Prepare For Career After College

January 14, 2015

Aiken, SC – The University of South Carolina Aiken, in conjunction with the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, will begin a new career readiness program this semester. This pilot program will focus on developing more of the “soft skills” businesses and industries seek in college graduates.

When the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) recently surveyed participating employer organizations to rate the importance of employee candidate skills and qualities, the organizations chose the following in their top five:

The ability to verbally communicate with people inside and outside the organization
The ability to make decisions and solve problems
The ability to work within a team structure
In addition, a study in 2012 by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that the skills employers needed yet found most lacking in job candidates were written and oral communication, adaptability and priority management, and decision-making and problem-solving. Another study by Gallup, Inc. (Gallup 2013) found that just 11% of business leaders strongly agree that higher education institutions in this country are graduating students with the skills and competencies that their business needs.
Based on this criteria, more focus needs to be placed on developing the skills that employers seek.  One of the best ways to do this is to create programming to develop these skills while working in collaboration with business leaders to do so. A natural organization to lead that collaboration is the Chamber of Commerce, and a grant from the organization will fund the program.
The career readiness pilot program has been reviewed and feedback has been given by numerous local business leaders including members of the Chamber of Commerce.  This feedback was used to help create the topics for the workshop series.  Business and industry leaders as well as experts in each topic area will facilitate the workshops.
Topics for the workshops include the following:
Creating a brand and managing your image
Presentation skills
Mock interviews
Managing finances
Managing the first year in the work place
Business etiquette
Professional work behavior
Conflict resolution in the work setting
Problem solving in the work place
Managing an office
Accepting criticism/feedback
Effective written communication in the business world
These workshops will be free for USC Aiken students and the students who participate in a certain number of workshops will receive recognition.
“Business leaders across the state have told us that college graduates have obtained tremendous depth of knowledge in their fields of study, but those same students may not possess the soft skills that allow them to excel in the workplace. We know that business and industry need new employees who can hit the ground running, so this program is intended to build in graduates those workplace skills and competencies needed to guarantee greater success,” says Dr. Sandra Jordan, Chancellor at USC Aiken. “The SC Chamber of Commerce understands that the smartest states are those that focus on student attainment in order to achieve business success. It is a shared mission and with this pilot we will provide a low cost, effective model for the entire state.”

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2017 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 19th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 12th time in first place.