Proposal+5: J6128

My proposal:

For my research paper I will be examining the employability skills that are in demand from recent undergraduate college graduates who earned a liberal arts degree-and are applying to entry-level jobs that require at least an undergraduate degree, while identifying the similarities and differences of employability skills compared to a STEM degree. In my research paper I will argue that undergraduate students who obtain a liberal arts degree gain an exceptional education that uniquely prepares them for a successful career of their choosing, because a liberal arts degree provides them with soft skills that employers want- as opposed to a STEM degree which provides hard skills. In this research paper I will further argue that the following soft skills are what employers are looking for from recent college graduates; communication skills, teamwork skills, problem-solving skills, creativity, and leadership skills. Although college undergraduate students feel pressured to choose majors that will lead directly to well-paying careers which leads them to obtain a STEM degree, employers prefer to hire liberal arts majors because they obtain a well-rounded degree in the social sciences and humanities that provides them a broad range of skills that a STEM degree fails to do. Therefore I argue that recent college graduates who obtained a liberal arts degree possess skills of communication, teamwork, problem-solving, creativity and leadership which make them more hireable than STEM degrees because STEM degrees lack these skills that employers demand.  


  1. An exploration of global employability skills: a systematic research review
  • Background: This study conducted by Isra Sarfraz, a PhD student at the Swinburne Business School, Melbourne, Australia- aims to identify any similarities and differences present in employability skills demand of different sectors of industry or parts of the world. The purpose of this article also is to explore and categorise, through a systematic research review process, the key employability skills identified as important by researchers across the globe by studying the views of various stakeholders.  
  • How I intend to use it: This study will help me to discover the identified employability skills in demand across all industries and in all parts of the world. This study also will help me evaluate the most commonly reported leading ten skills that are in demand. Although this study does not specifically state the majors/degrees involved with attributing these ten skills analysis- the study will help me to identify those skills and their significance to employers and those who possess them. 
  1. How Liberal Arts and Science Majors Fare in Employment


Click to access HowLiberalArtsandSciencesMajorFareinEmployment.pdf

  • Background: Authors, Debra Humphreys and Patrick Kelly address the concerns about whether college is still worth it and whether “liberal arts” majors provide a solid foundation for long-term employment and career success.This report compares earnings trajectories and career pathways for liberal arts majors with the earnings trajectories and career pathways for those majoring in science and mathematics, engineering, and professional or pre professional fields such as business or education.
  • How I Intend to Use it: This report will help me to evaluate employer priorities for new hires, employer views on requirements for advancement and long-term career success as well as employer views on liberal arts and sciences and selected learning outcomes      
  1. Stem Education And The Workplace


Click to access OPS4-STEMEducationAndTheWorkplace-web.pdf

  • Background: This report examines the knowledge and skills that a scientific education provides and employer demand for the graduates majoring in STEM that possess them. 
  • How I Intend to Use it: This report will help me to form a counterargument from my hypothesis by evaluating the value of STEM skills employers demand in the workplace as well as STEM degree projections and the overall value of obtaining a STEM education.   
  1. Employment Outcomes in the Four-Year Sector: The Value of Liberal Arts Degrees


  • Background: The purposes of the study were to separate out those majoring in the sciences and mathematics from those majoring in humanities and social sciences and tracked their employment outcomes. The study evaluates the value of liberal arts degrees and the capacities they develop that set graduates up for professional success. 
  • How I Intend to Use it: This study will help me to build my argument/ support my hypothesis for how liberal arts degrees make employees who possess them more marketable because they develop skills that complement a wide range of professions as opposed to the sciences and mathematics majors. This study also will help me to examine how students who pursue their major within the context of a broad liberal arts education substantially increase their likelihood of achieving long term success. Lastly this study also shows the salaries earned by liberal arts majors compared to science and mathematics majors (salaries directly out of college and peak earning ages 56-60)

5. “Employers’ perceptions of the employability skills of new graduates”
Research commissioned by the Edge Foundation. Authored by: Kevin Lowden, Stuart Hall, Dr Dely Elliot and Jon Lewin


APA Ciation: Lowden, K., Hall, S., Elliot, D., & Lewin, J. (2011). Employers’ perceptions of the employability skills of new graduates. London: Edge Foundation.

  • Background: The main objectives of this study were To explore the perceptions of employers and Higher Education Institution staff concerning the skills, knowledge and characteristics which help undergraduates /new graduates to be employable. 2. To ascertain whether perceptions vary by employment sector and employer size. 3. To assess whether such perceptions have influenced HEI strategies (informal and formal) to provide support, activities and learning opportunities to enhance students’ employability skills. 4. To explore what formal or informal methods are used by employers to assess graduates’ employability skills as part of their recruitment process. 5. To assess whether there are differences in desirable employability skill sets across those who have graduated from programs of study that have included a greater or lesser amount of work-based and work-related learning (or learning approaches that inculcate such skills).

How I Intend to Use it: This study will help me to evaluate the qualities, characteristics, skills and knowledge that constitute employability both in general, and specifically for graduates, as well as what employers expect graduates to have.

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3 Responses to Proposal+5: J6128

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, J.
    Your fifth link (“Employers’ Perceptions”) yields no results, and since you don’t name the source, I don’t know how to search for it. I’ve edited your first source link to provide BOTH the name of the source AND and a link, which will be very helpful on occasions when the links lead nowhere.

  2. davidbdale says:

    J, you specify in your Proposal that you’ve settled on an argument, which troubles me. You will argue, you say, that liberal arts graduates are preferred by employers for their soft skills, which you enumerate. There is probably ample evidence for this point of view. David Solomon, chairman of Goldman Sachs, was quoted not long ago complaining that he’s finding “less and less good writers” —the one essential skill set that’s becoming harder to find. That’s not exactly what you’d expect the CEO of a financial services firm to be demanding. So, yeah. Soft skills.

    But . . . that may not be the only surprise you encounter in your research. For now, describe your Proposal as a Research PROPOSAL that you want to TEST.
    1. Are there jobs for which soft skills are almost irrelevant: YES!
    2. Will soft skills improve an applicant’s chance of landing certain jobs: YES!
    3. Will inexperience in STEM sciences disqualify millions of applicants from certain jobs no matter how strong their soft skills: YES!
    4. Would readers be surprised to find that soft skills are essential even in some very technical STEM fields: YES!

    Does any of that mean that I want you to do a “sometimes this, sometimes that” essay: NO!

    Find the surprising category. Write about the way soft skills can help candidates land jobs EVEN IN STEM industries, for example. Or read to find out if that’s ever true.

    Be open to surprise and alert to every “Aha moment.” Don’t make up your mind too soon. It will get in the way of true research.

  3. davidbdale says:

    I haven’t read Source 2, but neither have you helped me know what it says.
    You say:
    The Authors [talk about] whether college is worth it and whether “liberal arts” majors provide a foundation for career success compared to those majoring in STEM fields, business, or education.
    Which is fine, but, what I’m looking for is:
    The Authors compare liberal arts and STEM education paths as preparation for career success and conclude that, while employers SAY their most important hiring qualification is technical expertise, the numbers show that applicants with considerable communication skills and AT LEAST SOME technical ability actually fare better in their first five years of employment.
    (Or whatever they ACTUALLY conclude. 🙂 )

    You say, “I will use this source to demonstrate”:This report will help me to evaluate employer priorities for new hires, employer views on requirements for advancement and long-term career success as well as employer views on liberal arts and sciences and selected learning outcomes.
    Which is fine, but what I’m looking for is:
    This report will help me to evaluate employer PREJUDICES that new hires must be proficient in the technical skills of their scientific or business field.
    (Or whatever they ACTUALLY conclude.)

    Do you see what I’m getting at?
    Your summaries sound as if you haven’t read the sources yet and don’t know what the authors have to offer that would advance any particular argument. You don’t have to know your thesis yet, but if you looked back on this post in five weeks, would you know whether the authors favored STEM grads or liberal arts grads?

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