Saving the Liberal Arts: Making the Bachelor’s Degree a Better Path to Labor Market Success

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Saving the Liberal Arts: Making the Bachelor’s Degree a Better Path to Labor Market Success

Increasing college tuition and economic instability have resulted many recent college graduates underemployed and caught in a debt trap. As such, this has led to a shift in focus towards the correlation between higher education and career prospects. Many begun to question their investment, particularly, in the liberal arts programmes on their value and relevance in today’s dynamic economy.

As more technical and repetitive tasks are becoming automated, research have demonstrated the growing shift of labour market towards “non-cognitive” skills, including social and leadership skills. One of the key influences of workforce hybridisation is the growing significance of digital technologies across industries; thereby, requiring an increased digitally literate workforce. Programming and software development is the fastest-growing career cluster as inherent goals for the liberal arts students. Other fast-growing categories include marketing and PR, and data analysis and management, which are increasingly digitally driven.

Students in liberal arts programmes can tap into these job opportunities by adding computer science, statistics, and other quantitative electives to the traditional core courses required of their majors. Therefore,if liberal arts graduates develop some marketable skills, their earnings could be comparable to those of graduates with degrees in more applied or technically oriented majors.

With the most liberal arts graduates now receiving degrees in majors that are of little relevance to job market demands, skills have become a critical component in illustrating job-market readiness. As such, institutions have to provide more opportunities for students to develop relevant skills through strategic curriculum development, creation of work-based learning opportunities such as internships or co-ops, and stronger ties with local employers.

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Source: AEI

Participate in the upcoming QS Totally Arts Summit – “21st Century Art and Design Education: Nurturing Passion with Purpose” which will be held from 24-26 October 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.