White Paper-J6128

My Hypothesis

1. Liberal arts degree from an undergraduate university
2. Liberal arts degree economic value at an undergraduate university
3. The impact on earnings of a liberal arts degree, compared to alternative forms of higher education
4. A liberal arts education is focused on job skills that will lead to better earnings outcomes for students
5. A liberal arts education/degree is better at providing and improving skills that employers demand, therefore graduates will attain a higher rate of employability success
6. A liberal arts education/degree is more valuable by providing a broad range of skills that employers demand which will make students more employable than having a STEM education/degree

My proposal +5

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.  

Sources: 

  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

URL:

  • 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

URL:https://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/sites/default/files/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

URL: 

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00091383.2014.910056?needAccess=true

  • 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.

Bibliography-J6128

Rebuttal source #1:  Aud, S., Hussar, W., & Kena, G. (2011, May). The Condition of Education 2011. Retrieved April 11, 2020.

Background: This study conducted by the U.S department of Education discussed 50 indicators of important developments and trends in U.S education. The indicators focus on participation and persistence in education, student performance and other measures of achievement as well as the environment for learning and resources for education. The data in this report was obtained from various sources such as students, teachers, state education agencies, local elementary and secondary schools as well as colleges and universities- using surveys and complications from administrative records.       

How I intend to use it: I plan on using the source’s actual and projected undergraduate enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions (colleges/universities), to show how  recent high school graduates see the value and demand of a college degree and how a college education will translate to obtaining a job after graduation.  

Rebuttal source #2: Carnevale, A. P., Cheah, B., & Van Der Werf, M. (2020). ROI Liberal Arts Colleges Value Adds Up Over Time. Retrieved April 11, 2020.

Background: This study conducted by Georgetown University discusses how students who attend liberal arts colleges in the U.S fare financially once they enter the labor force. The study measures return on investment (ROI) using the net present value(NPV), 40 years after a student enrolls at a college. This measure is especially relevant at liberal arts colleges, since students tend to enroll at these institutions at a traditional college-going age of around 20 years old.

 The report examines institutions listed by the Carnegie Classification system as Baccalaureate Colleges: Arts and Sciences; in which this category only covers colleges that primarily offer bachelor’s degrees. Furthermore, the study focuses on how liberal arts colleges fare quite well in terms of their ROI compared to STEM institutions. The study also discusses the graduation rates at liberal arts colleges and how they relate to the ROI at these institutions as well as how ROI is  at liberal arts institutions is also influenced by external factors such as regional per capita income.    

How I intend to use it: I plan on using this source to acknowledge the other side of my argument about how liberal arts advocates would argue that a liberal arts education offers a better return on investment compared to STEM in the long run. The study highlights the median ROI liberal arts  for liberal arts institutions starts out rather low, however, it rises quickly by 40 years after enrollment. Furthermore, the study highlights how at the 40-year mark, most of those who attended liberal arts colleges have been in the workforce for the majority of their adult lives, and the value of the credential is more evident. 

Rebuttal source #3: Humphreys, D., & Kelly, P. (2014). How Liberal Arts and Science Majors Fare in Employment. Retrieved April 11, 2020.

 Background: The authors of the study compare liberal arts and STEM education paths as preparation for career success and conclude that, while employers say that their most important hiring qualification is technical expertise, the numbers show that applicants with considerable soft skills and at least some technical ability actually fare better in their first five years of employment after graduation

How I intend to use it: This report will help me to evaluate employer prejudices that new STEM hires must demonstrate and be proficient in the technical skills of their scientific field and how liberal arts candidates have an advantage in the labor market by possessing soft skills that employers demand, which STEM candidates often lack.   

Rebuttal source #4: Lacey, A. T., & Wright , B. (2010, December 22). Occupational Employment Projections to 2018. Retrieved April 11, 2020.

Background: The study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics discusses long-term occupational employment projections every 2 years from 2008-2018. The first section of the study provides an overview of the BLS projections, including expectations for growth in the population, in the labor force, and in Gross Domestic Product; in which these factors influence occupational employment and provide context for the occupational projections. The second section details employment projections for occupational groups and gives an overview of broad trends across these groups. The third section discusses education and training and how they relate to the projections, and includes statistics on employment change, job openings, and wages by education or training category. The fourth section details the projections for significant individual occupations, including the occupations with the fastest projected rates of growth, those with the largest projected growth in numerical terms, and those with the greatest projected declines in numerical terms. The last section of this study provides information on job openings and on projected replacement needs,which refers to the demand that results when workers permanently leave an occupation.   

How I intend to use it: I plan to use this study to support my argument for how STEM careers are in demand based on the study’s employment projections which show how as a result of changing demographics, demand for  STEM careers in particular healthcare services is expected to increase rapidly and contribute to a relatively strong productivity growth on behalf of the economy.  

Definition source #5: Kranz, E. J. (2019, July 1). Critical Soft Skills And The Stem Professional. Retrieved March 6, 2020, from https://dune.une.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1234&context=theses “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 study is to also 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. Furthermore, the study highlights the fact that globalisation and technological advancements have transformed customary work practices, with an accompanying shift in demand in the skills required by employers; in which new roles and opportunities are created and existing ones are redefined to keep up with the changing demands of the 21st century labour market.  

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.  

Definition source #6: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 become employable. Second, to ascertain whether perceptions vary by employment sector and employer size. Third, to assess whether such perceptions have influenced HEI strategies (informal and formal) to provide support, activities and learning opportunities to enhance students’ employability skills. Fourth, to explore what formal or informal methods are used by employers to assess graduates’ employability skills as part of their recruitment process. Fifth, 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.

Causal source #7: Emerson’s 2018 Stem Survey Shows a Need for Stem Education: Emerson US. (2018, August). Retrieved April 3, 2020, from https://www.emerson.com/en-us/news/corporate/2018-stem-survey

Background: This survey highlights the growing need for STEM education and awareness to fill an estimated 3.5 million jobs by 2025. The survey further highlights that despite a national targeted focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and education over the past decade, 2 out of 5 Americans believe the STEM worker shortage is at crisis levels. The survey discusses how although the U.S has made some positive strides in STEM awareness, there are still opportunities to improve in which the encouragement gap represents a significant opportunity, as nearly half of respondents expect the number of STEM jobs in the U.S. will grow in the next decade. 

How I intend to use it: I plan to use this survey to support my argument for how the U.S is in the midst of a high-tech talent crisis due to the growing skills, racial and gender gap in the workforce. As well as how it is important for the U.S education system to introduce STEM at an earlier age; educating students about the numerous careers the STEM field has to offer which is crucial in preparing them for the workforce. 

Causal source #8: Funk, C., & Parker, K. (2019, December 31). Women and Men in STEM Often at Odds Over Workplace Equity. Retrieved April 3, 2020, from https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/01/09/women-and-men-in-stem-often-at-odds-over-workplace-equity/

Background: This study discusses how women working in STEM fields face a more hostile environment than their male counterparts experience. Discrimination and sexual harassment are seen as more frequent, and gender is perceived as more of an impediment than an advantage to career success. Three groups of women in STEM jobs stand out as more likely to see workplace inequities: women employed in STEM settings where men outnumber women, women working in computer jobs (only some of whom work in the technology industry), and women in STEM who hold postgraduate degrees. 

How I intend to use it: I plan to use this study to highlight the debate about underrepresentation and treatment of women – as well as racial and ethnic minorities – in the fast-growing technology industry and decades of concern about how best to promote diversity and inclusion in the STEM workforce.

Causal source #9: Ramos, D. (n.d.). employers must redefine STEM to attract future talent, according to new randstad US data. Retrieved April 3, 2020, from https://rlc.randstadusa.com/press-room/press-releases/employers-must-redefine-stem-to-attract-future-talent-according-to-new-randstad-us-data

Background: This study conducted by Randstad U.S discussed key motivations, beliefs and perspectives of STEM-related topics among kids aged 11 to 17. The study highlights that despite high interest in STEM studies and confidence in STEM skills at a younger age, interest dwindles as children grow older. Furthemore, the study addresses the concern of how the term ‘STEM’ needs a rebrand and awareness campaign to get the next generation of talent excited about pursuing these careers.

 How I intend to use it: I plan to use this study to address the concern that if the U.S education system does not find a way to guide and prepare the future workforce for these STEM positions, we run the risk of the need for these skills escalating and the hiring gap expanding

Causal source #10: Stevenson, H. J. (2014). Myths and Motives behind STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Education and the STEM-Worker Shortage Narrative. Retrieved April 3, 2020, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1045838.pdf

Background: This study conducted by Business Roundtable discusses the history of the STEM-worker shortage which dates back to the 1950s when there was a perceived threat to U.S. economic and homeland security by the launch of Sputnik, and fear that the Soviet Union was annually producing almost twice as many more scientists and engineers than the United States. The U.S STEM industry has been a cycle of  alarm, boom and bust. The study further details how this cycle continues to repeat throughout the ongoing development of the STEM-worker shortage narrative. In addition the study addresses that in order to bolster the United States’ performance in the global economy, and address the scarcity of the U.S. STEM-qualified graduates, businesses and nonprofit organizations need to come together to improve STEM education.   
How I intend to use it: I plan to use this study to address how it is essential for businesses and nonprofit organizations to help reform the STEM education system so the U.S can become a dominant and thriving high-tech global economy. As well as how the STEM crisis dating back to the 1950s set the pace for why the U.S STEM industry is experiencing a growing skills, racial and gender gap in the workforce.

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