Sun., November 3, 2013 4:00am (EST)

Are College Graduates Workforce Ready?
By Ellen Reinhardt
Updated: 8 months ago

ATLANTA  —  
The University System of Georgia has two missions: make sure Georgia high school graduates are prepared for college and college graduates are ready for the workforce.  File photo of Chancellor Hank Huckaby at Armstrong Atlantic State University. ( courtesy of Armstrong Atlantic State University)
The University System of Georgia has two missions: make sure Georgia high school graduates are prepared for college and college graduates are ready for the workforce. File photo of Chancellor Hank Huckaby at Armstrong Atlantic State University. ( courtesy of Armstrong Atlantic State University)
The University System of Georgia has two missions- make sure Georgia high school graduates are prepared for college and college graduates are ready for the workforce.


University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby says colleges have complained for years that high school graduates are not prepared for higher education.


Now the system is stepping back and owning up to its share of responsibility for high school graduates’ lack of preparation, starting with evaluating teacher education.


Since the majority of the teachers in Georgia’s public schools are graduates of the University System of Georgia, Huckaby says the system will evaluate all 22 of its teacher education programs to make sure that graduates are ready to work in the classroom.


“We expect admission requirements for students to go into teacher education programs to be raised,” says Huckaby. ”It’s going to be a much more difficult career path for college students than it is now.”


The bottom line: Georgia has been failing to provide quality teachers, and Huckaby says the proof is in the pudding.


“We have high drop out rates. We know that the quality of high school graduates in so many cases coming out of our high schools are not ready to do college work in our system. They’re not ready to do successful work in the Technical College System. So that’s what’s driving it.”


Huckaby says the accountability of the University System is on the table, and teacher education isn’t the only degree program that can use improvement.


The system will also start evaluating other college degree programs to make sure students are prepared when they enter the workforce.


Governor Nathan Deal wants both public and private colleges in the state to produce 250,000 more graduates with post-secondary degrees by 2020.


Huckaby says the university system needs to do a better job of making sure graduates are prepared to be successful in multiple careers.


“In some areas, we’re doing an excellent job. Many, many employers are saying that we need more people with mathematics, science, technology backgrounds. We particularly hear it in the area of needing more engineers.”


Despite the need for more graduates who have degrees in math and science, Huckaby says employers aren’t only looking for workers trained in a specific discipline. They also want people who have good communications skills- including graduates who can write, analyze, solve problems and work in groups.


And that, Huckaby says, follows a national trend.


Contributors: Shauna Stuart