Graduation cap and a job application indicating the need for life skills.

Teaching life skills is the latest trend in higher ed


Employers characterize recent grads as both innovative and lazy; emphasize the importance of strong life skills for success

Recent college graduates need life skills more than they need technical skills to succeed in the workplace, according a national poll from High Point University (HPU). In fact, teaching these life skills is one of the biggest growing issues in higher education.

HPU asked 500 C-Level executives a series of questions about their experiences in hiring recent college graduates. Those executives indicate that life skills such as motivation, emotional intelligence, and the ability to solve problems are more important to their organizations than technical skills such as training on a specific software or subject.

Sixty-five percent of executives say they’d rather colleges equip students with life skills, opposed to 35 percent who say they’d rather colleges instill technical skills. But executives’ preferences don’t match up to what students actually learn–67 percent of executives believe today’s colleges are better at teaching technical skills than life skills. This could be a result of the fact that it is often difficult to assess students’ life skills.

Life skills also seem to account more for new hires’ failure to succeed. Executives say new hires fail for reasons such as motivational skills (38 percent) and emotional intelligence (29 percent), while technical skills ranked near the bottom with 11 percent.

“By asking national executives for their perspective, this data empowers our students and informs university leaders as we continue to enhance our holistic educational model to answer the demands of the global marketplace,” says HPU President Nido Qubein.

Laura Ascione