Jay E. Noel Eivis Qenani Agribusiness Department,California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California
Introduction Changes in the nature of work and the are transforming the kinds of knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed for successful employment and work performance So, what set of skills do today’s graduates need to be successful in the tomorrow’s economy?
Goal of the Study: … to examine the emerging paradigm of skills perceived as essential for the success of graduates in the knowledge economy
Findings from the study:… shed light into the changing needs of the economy regarding the skill set required from future college graduates
Human Capital, Skills and EducationA vast literature has shown the directimpact of human capital and education oneconomic output, growth, productivity andprogress of the society
Skill Definition Skills are “those generalizable attributes of individuals that confer advantage in the labor market” Skill is “an ability or proficiency at a task that is normally acquired through education, training and/or experience”
Skill Grouping Skills are grouped in two categories: Generic skills that include higher cognitive skills and interpersonal skills such as problem solving, creativity, communication, etc. Technical skills refer to specific skills needed in a particular occupation or job
Skills and Education If skills demanded in the workplace are identified, then education should be able to design curricula to ensure that students acquire the proper building blocks Boehlje et al. (2011) point out that development and implementation of technology and new innovations are becoming vitally critical to long-term success of the food and agribusiness industry But, employers repeatedly report that many new graduates they hire are not prepared to work and lack the necessary skills Question: what is the effectiveness of education system in preparing graduates with the necessary core skills and attributes???
Skills and Graduate Education Various studies (Litzenberg & Schneider, 1987;Barkley, 1991; Barkley, Stock, & Sylvius, 1999;Norwood & Henneberry, 2006) have explored the topicof essential skills of agricultural graduates and theirrelative value in the workplace The fast changing nature of the industry indicates aneed to revisit this subject to better align educationaloutcomes with the needs of the job market
Data A Web-based survey was administered to employers of agribusiness college graduates from December 2011- April 2012 Employers’ database (n=1,050) was created by combining various sources such as lists from Cal Poly Agricultural Employers, Red Book Credit Services (CA, FL, OR, WA) and California League of Food Processors Two part survey: a) direct questions; b) discrete choice experiment
Questionnaire Employers were asked to imagine the situation of hiring for an entry-level position requiring an undergraduate degree and presented withthree hypothetical profiles of job candidates and were asked to selectthe best candidate The hypothetical profiles differed by combining various levels of thefollowing skills: Critical Thinking Communication Teamwork Creativity Knowledge of Marketing Knowledge of Finance
Graduates’ Attributes and Attribute-Levels Used in Choice-Based Conjoint Questions Attributes Levels Definitions Critical Thinking Skills Basic Elementary or Base Level Good Average or Satisfactory Level Advanced Specialist or High Quality Level Communication Skills Basic Elementary or Base Level Good Average or Satisfactory Level Teamwork Skills Basic Elementary or Base Level Good Average or Satisfactory Level Creativity Yes Creative No Not Creative Knowledge of Marketing Basic Elementary or Base Knowledge Good Average or Satisfactory Knowledge Advanced Specialist or High Quality Knowledge Knowledge of Finance Basic Elementary or Base Knowledge Good Average or Satisfactory Knowledge Advanced Specialist or High Quality Knowledge
Data A fractional factorial randomized design with main effects only that optimized the D-efficiency was used to select 16 choice tasks for each respondent A sample choice task from the survey is presented below: Attributes Candidate Candidate Candidate A B C Critical Thinking Advanced Basic Good Communication Basic Good Good Teamwork Basic Good Basic Creativity No No Yes Knowledge of Advanced Basic Good Marketing Knowledge of Basic Advanced Good Finance
Model and Estimation Data were analyzed within a random utility framework values. Assuming that employer 𝑖 faces a choice among 𝐽 Each candidate is described by some vector of choice attribute alternatives in each of 𝐾 choice situations, he chooses alternative 𝑗 that will provide him with the highest utility Utility function of employer 𝑖 is given by: 𝑈 𝑖𝑖 = 𝛽𝛽 𝑖 𝑋 𝑖𝑖 + 𝜀 𝑖𝑖 (1) 𝑋 𝑖𝑖 - vector of non-stochastic independent variables (attributes of the alternative 𝑗 ) 𝛽 - vector of parameters measuring individual marginal utilities to be 𝜀 - the random element that includes all the unobservable factors estimated that influence individual choices The utility of each alternative is the sum of the marginal utilities of its attribute levels
Model and Estimation A Hierarchical Bayesian logit model was used to estimate individual marginal utilities given only a few choices by each individual Sawtooth Software – same software used by John Hauser, a marketing professor at MIT, to oversee two online conjoint studies commissioned (to study preferences for smartphones and one for tablets) by APPLE in the $2.5 billion suit against Samsung
Results A total of 159 completed surveys was further reduced to 137 based on the respondents who answered all choice-based conjoint questions Each respondent answered 16 customized choice sets providing 2,192 choice tasks available for analysis Respondents constitute a cross-sectional representation of employers in the food and fiber industry in terms of company type, revenues and number of employees
Description of Survey Respondents (n= 137) Category Number Percentage Company Type Input Provider 3 2 Food Processor 11 8 Retailer and Wineries 14 10 Financial Institution 16 12 Wholesaler 4 3 Broker-Shipper-Packer 24 18 Service Provider 13 9 Farm 26 19 Durable Goods Manufacturer 8 6 Other (Non Profit, Government, Biotech, 18 12 Manufacturing, Consulting) Company Revenue Up to $1 million 24 18 $1 million - $50 million 62 45 $51 million - $100 million 10 7 $100 million - $300 million 16 12 More than $300 million 25 18 Company Size Up to 10 employees 33 24 11-100 employees 46 34 101-500 employees 40 29 More than 500 employees 17 13 Role of Respondent in the Company CEO 44 33 Manager/Supervisor 56 42 HR Administrator 10 6 Other, responsible of hiring decisions 27 20
Direct Questions AGB Stated Students ExpectationMy company is satisfied with the quality of AGB graduates 4.35 -AGB graduates are able to make an immediate positive contribution to the workplace with 4.04 -minimum supervisionAGB graduates have the ability to identify, formulate, and solve agribusiness problems 3.61 4.35(problem solving/critical thinking)AGB graduates have the ability to analyze and interpret data. (quantitative skills: regression 3.75 3.89analysis, linear programming, statistical analysis, etc.)AGB graduates have the ability to use techniques, and current agribusiness tools (spreadsheet 4.11 3.84skills and capabilities)AGB graduates demonstrate effective oral communication skills 4.15 4.29AGB graduates demonstrate effective written communication skills 3.90 4.15AGB graduates have the ability to work effectively in a team environment 4.33 4.34AGB graduates demonstrate hands-on knowledge gained outside the classroom, via 4.32 3.46internships, international studies abroad programs and other workplace related experiencesAGB graduates demonstrate professional integrity and ethical behavior 4.41 4.69AGB graduates demonstrate understanding for diverse perspectives and backgrounds and 4.05 3.31work effectively in generating solutions that incorporate themCreativity - 4.08 Please indicate the degree you agree or disagree with the following statements, using a 5-point scale. 1 = Lowest; 2 = Low; 3 = Medium; 4 = High; 5 = Highest
. Direct Questions AGB Students Stated ExpectationAGB graduates are prepared well to solve a problem when: a)The problem is well-defined and the steps needed to solve it are clearly 30%specified b) The problem is well-defined but the steps needed to solve it are not clearly 40%specified c) It is clear that there is a problem , but the problem is not well defined and 30%there are no clear steps to solve itAGB graduates demonstrate depth of knowledge, skill and perspective in thespecialized area of: Marketing 4.18 3.31AGB graduates demonstrate depth of knowledge, skill and perspective in thespecialized area of: Finance 3.96 3.07AGB graduates demonstrate depth of knowledge, skill and perspective in thespecialized area of: Accounting 3.80 3.09AGB graduates demonstrate depth of knowledge, skill and perspective in thespecialized area of: Sales 4.09 3.19How important to you as an employer are the problem-based and learn-by-doingexperiences during the college education of the student? 4.33*As an employer, what kind of education do you believe is more valuable to students: 19%*• A Specialized Education that is focused on specialty areas (such as marketing, finance, etc.)• A Balanced Education that combines broad competencies and specialty areas 81%
Estimation Results Marginal Utilities Using Attributes Marginal Utilities Using the the Multinomial Logit Hierarchical Bayesian Model Model and Standard Deviations Critical Thinking Skills Basic -1.38854* -0.58784*(0.04572) Good 0.35698* 0.16026*(0.04074) Advanced 1.03156* 0.42758*(0.04106) Communication Skills Basic -1.22445* -0.53996*(0.03086) Good 1.22445* 0.53996*(0.03086) Teamwork Skills Basic -0.85386* -0.38902*(0.02976) Good 0.85386* -0.38902*(0.02976) Creative Thinking Yes 1.54899* 0.60826*(0.03126) No -1.54899* -0.60826*(0.03126) Knowledge of Marketing Basic -0.40748* -0.15656*(0.04239) Good 0.10359* 0.08495*(0.04133) Advanced 0.30389* 0.07160*(0.04135) Knowledge of Finance Basic -0.26371* -0.10500*(0.04195) Good 0.15611* 0.09345*(0.04109) Advanced 0.10760** 0.01155*(0.04121) Log-likelihood for this model = -1580.18 Consistent Akaike Info Criterion = 3237.39 Chi Square Statistic= 1053.91Note: Standard errors are in parentheses. * and ** denote statistically significant variables at 5% and 1% levels of respectively.
Importance Scores for Attributes Attributes of College Attribute Rank of Graduates Importance Scores Importance (0 - 100%) Creativity 29% 1 Communication 23% 2 Skills Critical Thinking 22% 3 Skills Teamwork Skills 16% 4 Knowledge of 7% 5 Marketing Knowledge of 4% 6 Finance
Findings Creativity is the most important attribute with the strongest impact on employer’s choices Communication skills and Critical Thinking skills compete closely as the second and third most valued attributes by employers Ability to work in Teams skills came across as the next important attribute for employers Specialized Technical knowledge in marketing and finance were ranked relatively low by employers
Findings Labor market places a higher value on generic skills, like creativity, interpersonal communication, critical thinking, and ability to work in teams compared to technical skills As production becomes increasingly globalized, employees must have skills that allow them to adapt, be willing to engage in innovation and redeployment More general abilities and worker flexibility are required and must be nurtured as they are critical given the dynamic nature of the labor market and ongoing technological change
Choice Modeling Attributes Candidate A Candidate B Candidate C Critical Thinking Basic Good Basic Communication Good Good Good Team Work Good Basic Good Creativity No Yes Yes Marketing Good Basic Basic Finance Good Basic Basic Preference Share(Hierarchical Bayes) 24% 40% 36% Preference Share (Aggregate Logit) 21% 42% 36%
Conclusions Results of the study indicate that there has been a shift in the needs for skills in the labor market New skills are emerging as important to the knowledge economy Employers value most workers who can think creatively. The quest for creative ideas and solutions in the today’s economy is becoming more and more pervasive Although it is a talent-oriented process, yet, creativity can be taught and learned in schools (Livingston, 2010)
Creativity … involves thinking that aims at producing ideas or products that are relatively novel and can add value to society Creativity requires some specific knowledge, but more importantly it can be developed and promoted!!!
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