According and setting themselves on a path toward a

to the United States Department of Labor, to help additional Americans obtain
relevant skills and family-sustaining jobs, President Trump issued an Executive
Order expanding Apprenticeships in the United States. Apprenticeships
provide paid, relevant workplace experiences and opportunities to develop
skills that job creators demand. Trump plans to rework college-accreditation
and student-aid policies in a bid to encourage greater use of Apprenticeship
Training in higher education. However, for minorities who have a high
school diploma, 38% obtain a bachelor’s degree (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). The
percentage is less than 40%, which is detrimental because in the Unites States
education should be an opportunity to create the American Dream. However, the
economic deficiencies that minorities face often hinders their education
(Manning, 2003).

Education has been a way for oppressed people to
improve themselves and to move their families and communities forward. Higher
education should be utilized as a central tool to dismantle the barriers of
racial inequality. Higher education needs to create better resources for
students who want to obtain employment once graduating. Students enroll in college for the
primary purpose of getting a good job and setting themselves on a path toward a
successful career. Sometimes universities have shown unwillingness about
embracing a role in job and career preparation, rather wanting to maintain a focus
on the value of attending college, becoming an educated citizen, and earning a

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The purpose of this paper is to explore strategies for universities to prepare
their students for careers once enrolled on their campus.

paper will utilize the following research questions:

(1) Are “Career ready” graduates meeting expectations in the

(2) How can we combine college and career readiness in education?

(3) What is the impact of creating a liaison between the
university and the industry in order for students to have the preparation for
their field of choice?

Workforce Expectations

graduates have an unemployment rate of 2.5%. Yet the unemployment rate is half
for those individuals with just high school credentials and just one-third the
unemployment rate of those without a high school diploma (U.S.

Census Bureau, 2015). Some
employers touch point on how widening the “skills gap,” could help and yet blame
the disconnect between the degree that the graduates have earned, and the
knowledge, skills, and abilities demanded by the innovation economy for a 21st
century workforce (APLU, 2017) on these statistics. There have been survey polls
that employers touch points about difficulty filling jobs, report say 40% of
employers globally report such difficulty (APLU, 2017).

was a similar survey of member companies, and over 50 % of the employers reported
that skills shortages are problematic. Importantly, surveys dig more deeply
into the types of skills: including technical and also “soft” skills like
critical thinking. While some reports indicate there are unfilled jobs that
require specific technical skills, others report the top attributes employers
seek are critical thinking and interpersonal skills: including leadership,
teamwork, communication skills, and problem-solving.

For Higher Education to increase
their usefulness and fulfill their missions, public universities should ensure
education and learning that result in degrees is responsive to the job and career
needs of society in addition to the lifetime preparation needs of our students.

This level of preparation includes the content expertise needed for students’
first and future jobs, as well as developmental capacities such as life-long
learning, civic engagement, and critical thinking (APLU,2017). Institutions of
higher education might feel at this moment how can we best prepare our
graduates for the job market but should be taking notes on what they doing
wrong in their curriculum.   

College and Career Readiness

increasingly feel that universities are not doing enough to prepare students
for employment. Universities feel a degree must involve a broad education but public
university community agree as well on the need to prepare students for
employment. For example, President Rosenberg is on the taskforce committee for
apprenticeships as the voice for Public Universities in Florida. Education and
employment preparation are usually not on the same page with their vision and goals.

Universities should focus on both goals to best serve students, society, and
the economy. Higher Education should continue to evolve and incorporate
curriculum that increases the student career success but their academic needs
in their field of choice.

estimate that by 2020 the U.S. economy will increase by 55 million new job openings
(APLU, 2017). Jobs will require postsecondary education and training beyond
high school. Those new jobs will require college degrees that include key
employment skills. Education for employment upon graduation is important, but a
four-year degree should also put graduates in a better position to adapt as
employment requirements change throughout their careers. Curriculum should be (a)
developing and supporting instructional and course replacements, (b)intergrading
and enhancing service and work-based learning, and (c) embedding career
services in a pathway that approaches within traditional institutional practice
(APLU, 2017).

 However, preparation should start in
postsecondary education which could be the central strategy for high
schools. High School can improve college access and academic performance for minority
students. To ensure college readiness upon leaving high school, the students must
have the academic skills, proper coursework, and career accomplishments to be
considered for admission at an institution. College readiness is identified by
four main areas of skill development that are critical in shaping college
readiness: (1) content knowledge and basic skills (academic discipline and
techniques for a subject area), (2) core-academic skills (writing, research,
communication, analytical thinking skills) which are the weakest area of
preparation, and (3) non-cognitive skills and norms of performance
(self-awareness, self-monitoring, and self-control) (Coca, 2009). These are the
skills that colleges traditionally assess by looking at students’ high school
coursework and their performance.

Liaison Between Industry and

            Creating a liaison between the
university and the hiring companies is important in order for minorities to get
college degrees but employed once graduation.  Universities should have Apprenticeships, it
would be a paid-work component and an educational or instructional component,
wherein an individual obtains workplace-relevant knowledge and skills for
students looking into that field. This would make it possible for universities
and employer partners to explore a variety of new work/learn and experiential
learning opportunities that can benefit the students before graduating which
connects to the FIU Strategic Plan 2020. This would also benefit minority students,
as a paid internship would be the best
way to secure a full-time job with the employer of choice after graduation.  This would allow them to put their skills and
knowledge to work before graduation, provide them the opportunity to test a
potential career field of interest prior to graduation, and give an opportunity
to earn a wage to help contribute the cost of education.

In addition, minority students face
financial hardship, 27% of first-generation college students come from
households making $20,000 or less, so students have to work full time to help
at home and be full time students (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015). This contributes to
significant disparities by income and race on their college years. Minority
students who file for FAFSA, moreover, are more likely than Caucasian students
to file late, which reduces their eligibility for state and institutional aid.

The average minority families’ household earn less than $35,000 annually, and
more than one quarter of families remain below the federal government poverty
line (Manning, 2003).

and access to having internships is determined primarily by wealth, so for
minority students not being able to get a paid internship would not allow them
to quit their full time jobs because they need to help their families at home. Only
24% of students from families with incomes under $25,000 attend college (U.S.

Census Bureau, 2014). This liaison would challenge students and academic
advisors to engage with industry partners beyond career services advisory. This
could help facilitate sessions in which industry partners describe their needs
and participate in tracking current and future paths to the field of choice.


Higher Education has to start changing their
curriculum to adapt to the critical racial groups coming to universities. The diversity of the candidates
readying for the job market is reflected in the changing demographics of
student enrollment. Increased enrollment of diverse and underrepresented
students is shifting institutional responsiveness and higher education’s
ability to serve these students. A growing and significant fraction of these
students come from traditionally underserved populations including (a) low-income
and/or first-generation students (b) non-traditional students, and (c) minority
students. These underrepresented students have a different support structure,
less adequate academic preparation, and little exposure to job and career
opportunities for those with a college degree. Despite the challenges presented
by shifting demographics, these diverse students bring incredible opportunity
to our institutions and to the workforce. These students enrolling in Higher
Education could assist in expanding the capacity for innovation, problem
solving, and representation of a broad range of ideas.

 Institutions need to increase their responsibility
for better supporting students whether in academics, financial management, or
social capacity while completing their four-year degree and searching for
employment. Higher Education needs to develop an understanding of and responses
to the needs of the variety of students in our changing demographics, this
would help student retain in their institution and will increase their
preparation and diversify the workforce when entering. College graduates that
are more diverse and diversifying the qualified candidates, not only benefits
those students but also demonstrates responsiveness to a need often mentioned
by employers.

following sections discuss the findings for specific research question.

Career ready graduates not
meeting expectations for workforce.  Higher
Education has to start changing their curriculum to adapt to the attributes employers seek from
college graduates.  Now in
the 21st century, we have the privilege to receive an education
either in a four-year institution or a community college. However for minorities
students this not a reality due to the lack of knowledge on behalf of the
parents, information/ resources, and/or personal decisions. Higher education
needs to provide more resources to increase minorities’ students’ readiness for
employment, and graduate with their degree or certificate in their field of
choice. If we increase minority students to participate in higher education,
the diversity of the institution would increase their perspectives on meeting
expectations for the workforce and for the hiring committee.

of changing the curriculum to balance college and career readiness. Universities
should have their curriculum
with intentions of (1) developing and supporting instructional and course replacements,
(2) integrating and enhancing service and work-based learning, and (3)
embedding career services in a pathways approach within traditional
institutional practice. Several changes would help universities achieve the
balance of college and career readiness on campus by attracting and
transitioning minority students into a successful lifetime preparation.  These changes include: (a) expanding and
offering courses in the evening, on weekend, online, in hybrid, and in shorter
terms for minority students specifically non-traditional students, (b) developing
certificates that are competency based programs that incorporate assessments
for prior learning while taking their credit courses, (c) allowing students to
learn on their own pathways tailored to their abilities and field of choice,
and (d) accessing a range of career resources focused on students college
journey to explore their pathway of interest.

Impact of creating a liaison
between the university and the Industry. For a student to imagine
their self realistically, universities should create a partnership with
companies beyond the career service advisory. Minority students would be able
to have a paid internship that secures
a full-time job with the employer of their choice after graduation, putting
their skills and knowledge to work before graduation and have the opportunity
to test a potential career field of interest prior to graduation. By doing this
early enough it would also allow them if needed to change their career paths
before exceeding their credits/financial aid prior to graduation, and gives an
opportunity to earn a wage to help contribute the cost of education but mostly,
still be responsible for the household and their future. In addition, this
would facilitate partnerships between career services, faculty, and academic
advising, to look for opportunities to better support the students. Career
services and student support services professionals would be able to point student
interest with hiring industry position being opened that would promise the
students a career and skill development before graduation.

This liaison would influence faculty,
career services, academic advisors and employers to understand the pathways of
the future workforce.

and Conclusion

            Higher education has been a central
tool to train students for specific careers, to gain a degree and to take their
role as citizens in society. Engineering, nursing, business administration,
computer science, social work, occupational therapy, pharmacy, among many other
majors all put students on academic pathways that lead directly to work and are
accompanied by soft and cognitive skills that come from curriculum and
university experiences as a whole. For example, Higher Education Administration
degree requires you to have a practicum experience, which is credited in your
courses. Internships assigned for our degree are usually paid with benefits
that include housing, gym access, and other needs assigned because they
understand that we have obligations besides being a full time student. However,
for other majors not listed, students have to fight their way to find
employment because the curriculum does not have internship as a credited hours
or not able to find a paid internship to pay their family household bills.

            By the literature review, they have
made it essential for universities to re-examine how they engage with the
workforce. These changes do not mean that universities must choose between
their university mission and workforce development. They must continue to do
both. Trends in the demographics and society, however, mean that universities
must examine these perspectives roles differently than they have in the past.

This paper examines the strategies for universities to prepare their minority
students for their careers once enrolled on their campus.