Tennessee to Offer Skills ‘Warranty’

Tennessee has drawn its share of higher education attention with its Promise program gaining national recognition. A new initiative seeks to further address workforce skills challenges.

The Times Free Press in Chattanooga has the details.

Beginning next fall, new graduates of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) or similar technical programs offering certificates and degrees from state community colleges will come with an eye-catching “warranty” for prospective employers.

If companies can demonstrate the graduates they hire aren’t up to snuff, “we’ll take them back and train them for free,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings told Gov. Bill Haslam.

Replied Haslam: “I love the idea. … That’s accountability at its finest.”

“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Tydings told reporters. “If you do not have the skill set for which we say we have trained you, we’ll take you back and retrain you for free – if an employer documents that you do not have those skill sets within a year of graduation.”

Tydings said she doesn’t expect community colleges and TCAT to have to do much graduate retraining because of the job the institutions do.


Timeless Tips: I’ll Never Outgrow This Advice for College Grads

It was May 2000, I was graduating from college and I was scared to death about the future.

That period in my life was the best of times and the worst of times, as they say.

While an exciting new chapter was ahead, a painful one was underway. My dad recently had been diagnosed with cancer. There was a chance he wouldn’t be able to attend my graduation ceremony – the person who, along with my mom, had encouraged and supported me every step of the way. They cultivated from childhood a passion for learning.

Just when I thought there would be an empty chair in the crowd when I accepted my diploma, things started to look up.

My dad, weak from chemotherapy and radiation but beaming with pride, watched me graduate after all. And the following month, a phone call I made to the Indiana Chamber would change my life forever.

I inquired if there were open positions. There was one. And on June 26, I began my 14-year journey.

What a ride! I’ve honed my craft. I’ve learned from peers about the business world and – equally as important – about friendship. Beyond these doors, I’ve relished my role as a mentor to my nephews and niece as they’ve grown and now to my children.

So when I read an article today titled Five Mistakes College Grads Make When Starting Careers, it inspired me. I didn’t expect it to. After all, it was written to guide workforce rookies. But this veteran gleaned wisdom from each tip.

Do you tend to stay in your comfort zone? Do you always follow the rules? Are you intimidated by senior management? Don’t be, says the author. His anecdotes add a personal touch.

I for one will try to stop worrying so much about failing (mistake No. 5) whether it’s at work or at home (you never know, I could be the next Master Chef). It’s never too late to put fear in its place.

New to the Business World? Some Tips on Getting Hired

Ford R. Myers, president of Career Potential, LLC and author of Get the Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring, provides some useful advice to our future leaders of commerce:

Myers suggests the following five job-seeking tips parents can impart to their new college graduate:

1. The Most Qualified Job Candidate Does Not Necessarily Get the Job Offer. In today’s difficult job market, strong qualifications and accomplishments are necessary. However, the candidate who will get the job is the one who self-markets and demonstrates to the employer that she is the best fit for the company’s needs, problems and challenges.

2. Research Your Way to Success. Pay attention to local, regional and national sources of business intelligence. Study everything you can about the companies you’re most interested in. Learn to frame your ideas and value in terms that are relevant to the current business and economic landscape.

3. Networking is More Important Than You Think. The best jobs are not obtained through Web sites or help wanted ads. They are acquired through networking. Adopt the discipline of blocking-out time on your calendar for networking activities — now and for the duration of your career.

4. An Employer’s Offer is Never Its Best Offer. You might be tempted to take any job offer in a tight economy. Yet employers expect that you’ve done your salary research, and they anticipate having dynamic negotiations with you. In fact, if you don’t negotiate, the employer will likely be disappointed in you as a candidate.

5. Graduating from School is the Beginning of Your Education, Not the End. No company wants to hire someone whose base of knowledge is not current. As a professional, you should continuously build your credentials that will make you more attractive and marketable as a candidate.

Córdova: Purdue Grads Thrive Globally

Purdue’s France Córdova explains what’s so great about being a Boilermaker:

  • Tell us something that not enough people know about your college or university that makes it such a special place.

Three points come to mind immediately. First, the Purdue brand is a global one; Purdue’s star shines brightly no matter how far one travels from Indiana. As president I have had the opportunity to meet alumni across the globe, and I’ve seen that Purdue graduates are highly successful leaders in business, government, education, and cultural and civic affairs worldwide. Their contributions have been transformational. This makes Purdue special—its graduates have traveled as far as the Moon, and made an impact wherever they have landed.

Second, Purdue focuses on its students. Purdue is a large university, but its colleges, residence halls, and student organizations allow students to enjoy the benefits of a large university and, at the same time, feel the closeness of a smaller institution. Alumni tell me that what they remember most about their Purdue years is that faculty, staff and friends encouraged and challenged them, and would not let them fail. When they graduated, they had confidence and knew they could compete with anyone. 

As Purdue enters a new decade, we are implementing a strategic plan that is focused on launching our students to be tomorrow’s leaders. We are examining the entire learning experience, beginning with admissions standards to ensure proper preparation, thematic learning communities, and orientation programs to build social networks and enhance retention. We have developed technology that alerts students if their grades are slipping so that they can modify behaviors before it’s too late. We are also expanding our scholarship program, with a blend of need-based and merit-based awards. We give our students the skills, experiences and high-quality education to become leaders, scholars, entrepreneurs, and well-informed citizens.

Finally, we connect our students to Purdue’s storied past. Our alumni have remained close to their alma mater, and they help our students both enjoy the college experience and reach for big goals, just as they did. We connect our present and past students through our many traditions. First-year freshman or 40-year alumnus, we are all Boilermakers.

Hail Purdue! 

Tomorrow: Indiana State’s Daniel J. Bradley

Advice for Students: How to Move from New Grad to New Hire

You completed your finals, got your diploma and … have to move into your parents’ basement? While today’s job market is certainly tougher for recent college graduates than it has been in several years, there is no need to make the same mistakes that hold back so many graduates from landing their first job. Let’s look at a few common errors that stop new graduates from becoming new hires:

While searching for a position:
What not to do: Fail to take advantage of the four years you spent building relationships with well-connected people you could be using as networking contacts who already know your academic record and job skills.

What you can do instead: Career services offices exist to find opportunities for students and often offer alumni networks. Professors keep in touch with experts in their fields of study. Administrators are in regular contact with leaders at all kinds of organizations. The best part is that all three of these groups have a vested interest in seeing you, their former student, succeed after graduation. Do not neglect a network you spent four years living with, studying for and working under.

When thinking about your old internship:
What not to do: Decide not to call the company you interned with as a student because you spent most of your summer answering phones and making coffee. By making that decision, you miss out on an opportunity to pursue one of the few companies with which you have a professional employment history.

What you can do instead: Get in touch with your former supervisor to see if any positions are open or will be soon. Ask how things around the office have been and mention a few new skills you have picked up. Even if you cannot stand the thought of going back, you may be qualified for a position you would not have known about in a different department if you had not called. If there are no current job openings, you can still ask your former supervisor to reach out to you if he or she hears about anything you might be interested in.

While perusing the classifieds:
What not to do: Sift through job listing after job listing while subconsciously saying to yourself, “Internships are for students. I need a real job now!”

What you can do instead: Jobs are great, but especially in this market, there are a lot of other good opportunities that many students are overlooking. Fellowships and internships, in particular, have become increasingly popular options for students after graduation, as have service-learning opportunities like volunteering. They may not pay the bills quite as well, but today’s graduates need to be open minded enough to consider these positions – the role they play in adding resume experience and an opportunity to expand your network could be instrumental in finding your next position.

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Survey: Recent Grads Looking for Job Security, Advancement Above All Else

Do young people take more risks?

Perhaps they’re more daring when it comes to trying organic cuisine, implementing an aggressive 401(k) investment strategy, or listening to that dangerous and provocative Elvis Presley "rock and roll" music, as they call it.

But when it comes to their first jobs, a new survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) indicates security and opportunity for advancement are top priorities. In fact, security ranks well above opportunities to pursue personal development and display creativity. Also of note, the students weren’t too concerned about the company taking an active role in the community.

Edwin L. Koc writes in the May 2008 NACE Journal:

"The fact that ‘company takes an active role in the community’ finishes 13th out of 15 in terms of importance is especially interesting because so much has been made of this generation’s community consciousness."


"The fact that financial security is the hallmark characteristic of this year’s graduating college seniors is frankly surprising. Most of the students in this generation come from families that would generally be viewed as relatively well-off."

To view the survey results, click here.