College-Educated Employees Feel Unprepared for the Future, New Study Reveals

Posted By Terri Williams on May 19, 2016 at 4:52 pm
College-Educated Employees Feel Unprepared for the Future, New Study Reveals

College graduates who think their days of learning are over once they walk the stage are in for a rude awakening. To remain relevant and competitive, companies must continue to quickly evolve – which means that employees must continue to acquire new skills and knowledge.

Results from a new survey by the Bridge team at Instructure reveal that 75% of college-educated workers believe that their knowledge and skills quickly become outdated – and they believe that this can hinder their career growth.

The survey also gauges college preparedness levels, workplace training levels, and preferred learning styles. In addition, Jeff Weber, senior vice president of people and places at Bridge by Instructure, discusses the significance of the survey’s results and the importance of having a trained workforce.

Distribution of college preparation

When asked, “To what extent did college prepare you for your career?” on a scale from 0% to 100%, responses were as follows:

7.9% Feel 100% prepared
89.8% Feel 67.2% prepared
2.2% Feel 0% prepared


Distribution of future preparedness

When asked, “To what extent is your current work preparing you for your future?” on a scale from 0% to 100%, responses were as follows:

12.1% Feel 100% prepared
85% Feel 70.9% prepared
2.0% Feel 0% prepared


Learning Styles Defined

The survey identified 4 basic styles of learning:

Self-directed learning The learner takes initiative to gain new knowledge independently or voluntarily attend training
Informal learning Occurs in daily life, at home, with coworkers, and through various interests and activities
Non-formal learning Organized but flexibly-structured education or training, such as a conference
Formal learning Education or training that results in diplomas, certification, or other qualifications recognized by relevant authorities


Self-directed learners who take the initiative to learn were more likely to feel prepared than less self-directed learners who wait for learning opportunities to occur.

Workplace learning styles of Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials

Generation Informal Formal Non-Formal
Baby Boomers 44.80% 25.30% 29.90%
Gen Xers 37.30% 29.10% 33.70%
Millennials 36.10% 31.40% 32.60%


Analyzing the Survey’s Results

GoodCall had a Q & A session with Jeff Weber, senior vice president of people and places at Bridge by Instructure, to get some insight into the survey’s results.

Why are skills and education becoming outdated so quickly?

Jeff Weber: Technology is changing so quickly that it’s nearly impossible to keep up — not just at work, but at home, with our friends, and on our personal devices. Our brand new smartphones, software, apps, and cameras are ready for updates just days after we purchase them, so it’s no wonder that the skills and knowledge required to succeed at work are in need of constant updating. The rapid pace of technology development makes it challenging for companies to keep up with the latest tech applications and requires proactive training to ensure our people don’t fall behind.

How does this affect an employee’s chances for career advancement?

Jeff Weber: There are still significant opportunities for career advancement. These will come more quickly and in different formats that are more customized and unique to the individual. Those who are more willing to adapt and learn new technologies will be able to evolve and grow faster. Rapidly advancing technology has compounded both the opportunities for growth as well as the risk of falling behind.

Is it the employee’s responsibility to seek out opportunities or the employer’s responsibility to provide it?

Jeff Weber: Both. Ideally, an organization will provide a flexible platform for continuous learning opportunities for its employees so that their skills don’t expire too quickly. Leaders and employees in these companies will have to change their mentality and recognize that employees will be more proactive in determining their career and skill advancement opportunities and that leaders will function more as mentors and coaches.

If employees work at a company that is not providing adequate learning opportunities, they should take steps to solicit career development guidance from managers and others, while simultaneously seeking to build their own skills and knowledge base.

What are the advantages of providing training for employees?

Jeff Weber: I might be biased because, at our company, we prioritize learning at all phases of development, so I see a lot of advantages in proper employee training.

Our Bridge customers have helped us see that people who know more are able to do better work at a faster pace. Employee training has several advantages: first, employees who are trained better perform better – faster (increasing the path to productivity), leading the business to better results.

Second, we’ve found that employees are often more ‘engaged’ in building the business and doing good work when they understand the company’s vision and their role in helping to reach it.

Finally, employees who are better trained – and therefore more knowledgeable – will provide corporations with a competitive advantage over their peers.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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