UConn rethinks curriculums to meet new demands
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 23:03
Today’s job market – like the world in which it exists – is rapidly evolving. The environment is competitive as high unemployment rates. As a result, colleges and universities across the nation are rethinking their curriculums to meet the demands of this changing market, and UConn is no exception.
Currently, the United States has 3.4 million job openings, and post-secondary institutions are looking at how they can best prepare their students to fill these openings. Openings that, if filled, would lower the national unemployment rate from 8.3 to 6 percent.
In order to maintain its cutting-edge presence in the working world, UConn networks with a myriad of corporations and employers. “We meet regularly with employers to ask about trends, employment, and how things work and what we need to do to help our students in the changing job market,” said Dennis Rouelle, a career counselor in the Department of Career Services.
Rouelle reported the fields of accounting, engineering and the sciences are in especially high demand today in terms of job availability. Similarly, the U.S. News and World Report’s “100 Best Jobs of 2013 Rankings” revealed that careers in the medical and technology fields dominate the charts, with dentist, registered nurse and pharmacist grabbing the top three spots.
A UConn 2009 survey, Post Graduate Placement Statistics, saw the majority of graduates entering the professional/management/administrative field, while other popular choices included teaching, health and clerical/sales.
Some of these careers, such as accounting, nursing, and engineering, often require degrees from their respective preprofessional programs. However, the majority of UConn students are enrolled in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), a division of UConn with largely non-preprofessional majors.
With a Fall 2012 undergraduate enrollment of 10,350 students, CLAS boasts a larger student population than all nine of UConn’s other (mainly preprofessional) schools combined. The second largest college enrollment is School of Engineering, with 2,109 students, followed by the School of Agriculture (1,608 students) and the School of Business (1,519 students).
“Given that CLAS has the largest student population, it is likely that the major won’t be directly related to the career, whereas in business, science and engineering, there is that correlation,” Rouelle said.
So how can liberal arts students land a high-demand job without switching their majors? Rouelle recommends “networking, learning about the occupations, making informed decisions, and talking to people in careers of interest.” Additionally, hands-on work experience is crucial. “Internships are absolutely essential now for entering into the workplace,” he added.
However, for all students, the most important job-finding skills are those not necessarily indicated on the degree. “In regard to any career, the most important elements are knowledge about oneself, one’s interests, and values; knowledge of occupations and values that are work-related,” Rouelle said. “Major does not have to equal career.”