Business Monday

CEOs: Grads often lack key practical skills

I am bullish on America’s youth. Young people I meet underestimate the value of experience, but the good ones make up for it with hard work.

Eddy Arriola, chairman, Apollo Bank

It is painfully apparent that many high school and college graduates lack basic communication skills that would be expected of a college graduate. While many schools are doing a fine job of teaching technical skills and theory, the proliferation of technology has contributed to underdeveloped communication skills.

Roslyn Artis, president, Florida Memorial University

When recent high school and college grads interview for jobs with your office, how would you rate their job preparedness? (Scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “lacking many essential skills” and 10 being “extremely well prepared for someone that age.”

Ben Baldanza, CEO, Spirit Airlines

Too many candidates lack practical, applied experience upon graduating from college.

Tere Blanca, CEO, Blanca Commercial Real Estate

I feel that the state government understands the importance of STEM continues to invest more in our childrens future.

Daniel Cane, CEO, Modernizing Medicine

The colleges and graduate schools are increasingly incorporating internships and other programs that give students practical, real world exposure which ultimately makes the students more well-rounded and better able to hit the ground running when they arrive at Greenberg Traurig. Pre-recession we encountered the typical “Millennial Syndrome” many employers bemoaned, but post-recession we haven’t really encountered many young professionals expressing these sentiments anymore.

Jaret Davis, co-managing shareholder, Miami office, Greenberg Traurig

My answer would be 1 and 10 and all numbers in-between, as you might imagine in a company of over 120,000 employees worldwide. Essential is perhaps the key word in your question, as that is a bar that is rising higher all the time. It is no longer enough to be good at the basics — successful candidates today need good analytical, problem-solving, leadership, innovation and communication skills — just to name a few.

Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corp.

Given technological advances and access to resources that today's high school and college grads have, you would expect them to be better prepared than grads from previous decades, but that's not that case. The tradeoff for all of these technological advances are a decrease in communication and interpersonal skills and lack of intuition and innate drive since everything is readily available at their fingertips and they're no longer forced to think for themselves. Today's grads are also losing critical thinking skills.

Fabiola Fleurvanil, CEO, Blueprint Creative

Our experience has been that recent graduates are prepared, in most cases, with the basics depending on their field of study and their prospective role within our organization. Most importantly, we have found that millennials learn very quickly and are able to build upon these fundamentals in a way that often adds instantaneous value to our organization. In most instances, the essential skill that they bring to the table is the ability to build quickly upon an existing framework at a pace that is typically much faster and much more creative than what we have seen in the past.

Marcell D. Haywood, CEO, DirtPros

There needs to be more private sector involvement in the establishment of international business tracks, especially knowledge about geography, INCO terms and what the future opportunities are for them as employees or as entrepreneurs.

Charlotte Gallogly, president, World Trade Center Miami

They are prepared in a very different way as the skill set is more to social media interaction and flexible schedules.

Mike Jackson, chairman and CEO, Autonation

We are active recruiters of college graduates and have found great success and sharp, young, willing to learn men and women. For our distribution center we actively recruit men and women for operations and customer service. We are selective, but find good candidates are available. The challenge is that Gen Y applicants have different wants and expectations that we need to be mindful of.

Keith Koenig, president, City Furniture

Many are theoretical and "book-based", without much real-life work experience (internships, use of Excel, etc).

Jose Li, CEO, 71 lbs

I hire graduate level educated individuals with a specific skill set that includes critical thinking, verbal and written communication, analytical skills, high learning agility, maturity and a strong work ethic. What they don’t bring to the job is specific industry experience or a long work history. Our focus is to develop and grow our talent and provide an “on the job learning” experience to complement their skill set. Baptist Health is a Fortune 100 Best Company to Work For and we are fortunate to attract high caliber talent.

Ana Lopez-Blazquez, CEO, Baptist Health Enterprises

Our HR departments does a fantastic job screening candidates prior to the interview in an attempt to assure a fit with our organization. Most of the recent graduates we interview come well prepared and appear to have their career goals well laid out and the skill set to match.

Brad Meltzer, president, Plaza Construction Group Florida

The youth that we see seems to have entitlement issues and are not motivated.

Bruce Orosz, president and CEO, ACT productions

We have good experience with all.

Steve Owens, president, Swire Properties

Knowledge is one thing, life skills and business etiquette are another. I’ve gotten way too many employment inquiry emails ending with “Sent from my iPhone”.

Lauren "Lolo" Reskin, owner, Sweat Records

Preparation is often uneven, but this may be due more to rapidly changing market conditions than to educational preparation.

Mark Rosenberg, president, Florida International University

Many of the candidates we meet are extraordinarily prepared to meet the challenges of today’s workplace; the problem is that many more are not, so we need collaboration and a strategy to address workforce general across-the-board. The One Community One Goal efforts by the education institutions has been impressive. They are leading the way to work force preparedness.

Penny Shaffer, South Florida market president, Florida Blue

Companies, school systems and universities need to continually improve their coordinated efforts to prepare our students for the needs of the current and future workplace.

Maureen A. Shea, CEO, Right Management

Well prepared but as we all come to realize at some point in our careers, experience is the best teacher. As a teaching hospital we have an environment that accelerates the learning experience.

Steven D. Sonenreich, president and CEO, Mount Sinai Medical Center

We predominantly hire law school graduates, and we find that they are typically well prepared and extremely talented. In fact, the pool of top law school talent in Florida competes favorably with the premier schools across the nation.

John Sumberg, managing partner, Bilzin Sumberg

One of the biggest issues I see is college graduates knowing how to write well. Few have been taught how to write business letters or papers using proper grammar. Most recent college graduates are eager to work, know technology and put in the required hours. They need to be trained on corporate culture.

Teresa Weintraub, president and CEO, Fiduciary Trust International of the South


When recent grads interview for jobs with your office, how would you rate their job preparedness on a scale of 1 (lacking essential skills) to 10 (extremely well prepared for someone that age)?

  • Average score: 6.4 percent