I have written here before about the Higher Education Bubble. Related to that perception, you hear a lot of people devaluing education in the humanities and arts. High-profile news stories about graduates with degrees in, for example, film studies and a big debt load did not help.
But here is an article from a business publication saying that liberal arts grads are being hired—if they can demonstrate what are essentially good research and rhetorical skills. And by “rhetorical” I mean the ability to analyze and argue a given problem or situation. Quintilian, call your office.
From an article titled “Revenge of the Liberal Arts Major,”
More interesting, at least for those of us who got some parental grief over our college choice, was the apparent love being shown for liberal arts majors. Thirty percent of surveyed employers said they were recruiting liberal arts types, second only to the 34 percent who said they were going after engineering and computer information systems majors. Trailing were finance and accounting majors, as only 18 percent of employers said they were recruiting targets.
“The No. 1 skill that employers are looking for are communication skills and liberal arts students who take classes in writing and speaking,” said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and an expert on Generation Y. “They need to become good communicators in order to graduate with a liberal arts degree. Companies are looking for soft skills over hard skills now because hard skills can be learned, while soft skills need to be developed.”
Contrary to what the “expert on Generation Y” says, however, a liberal arts degree is no guarantee of communication skills, however. I see plenty of Facebook and blog posts from professor friends’ complaining of their students’ poor writing, inadequate research, and inability to think beyond checking the right answer on a multiple-choice test.
You have to work at it.