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Bridging the Skills Gap

Higher Education

By Lawrence Don (Butler)

There is a growing concern among employers that college graduates aren’t developing the skills needed for the 21st century workplace. According to a recent Gallup-Lumina Foundation poll, nearly eight in ten U.S. adults agree, “If the U.S. fails to develop a more talented workforce, it will fall behind other countries.” Sangeeta Bharadwai Badal, principal scientist for Gallup’s Entrepreneurship and Job Creation initiative, published an article that pinpoints challenges facing students transitioning from college to career. 

A recent survey by Deloitte, a consulting firm, illustrates the striking contrast between the skills millennials consider important for the workforce vs what employers look for in new hires. Specifically, recent graduates valued more mechanical skills (time management, academic knowledge, teamwork and analytical skills), while employers placed greater emphasis on the soft skills rarely taught in the traditional classroom (leadership, sales talent, general business knowledge and being entrepreneurial).

Thanks to educational development initiatives like the LEAD Program and alumni mentoring events, fraternity members are better prepared for professional life than their non-Greek counterparts. Pictured: Keynote speaker Bill Courtney (Mississippi) meets with student leaders at the 2016 College of Chapters in Roanoke, Va.

This ongoing problem presents an opportunity for fraternities to step up and solve the skills mismatch.

Fraternities and sororities around the country are answering the request by offering in-depth leadership programs to equip their members with interpersonal skills that can be put to use in any organization they after graduation.

Sigma Nu offers the LEAD (Leadership. Ethics. Achievement. Development) Program, a comprehensive ethical leadership development program designed to ensure participants learn by doing. Sigma Nu encourages all of their collegiate chapters to use the LEAD program to the fullest extent possible. It has four phases and all-chapter portion to complete over their undergraduate career.

Additionally, to members of Sigma Nu who are elected Eminent Commanders, the fraternity offers a program called College of Chapters. This program focuses on chapter management, leadership and core competencies.

Fraternity members can also use resources provided by the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values (AFLV), North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and FOCUS Training. All of these organizations exists to stimulate the growth and development of fraternity/sorority councils, chapters, and members by promoting leadership, educational and values based experiences and resources for student leaders, their advisors and the larger fraternal market. Also, the organizations are driven to foster a more engaged community to lead an ethical and positive impact at their respective institution.

Leadership programs and resources of this caliber showcase how fraternity men want to make a positive impact in their personal and professional lives.

Badal, a report produced by Oxford Economics, lists the qualities employers need most in future employees, furthermore below is a checklist of what employers are deeming important in new hires. 

Future Hire Checklist: 

  1. Relationship Building
  2. Dealing with Complexity and Ambiguity
  3. Balancing opposing views
  4. Team and Collaborations
  5. Co-Creativity
  6. Cultural Sensitivity
  7. Diverse Employee Management 


Future college graduates need to focus in on critical interpersonal and enterprising skills that will empower them to be successful in their workplaces as a new hire. The Gallup-Lumina Foundation article mentioned above provides a web-based assessment tool used to aid in identification of talent competencies desired by employers for the job-seeker. The Entrepreneurial Profile 10 (EP10) strategy is designed to identify and build an entrepreneurial mindset among college students, supporting them in develop the qualities employers are looking for in the workforce of the future. Gallup offers several ways to start discovering and developing entrepreneurial talents. This program allows participants to develop and direct their entrepreneurial skills in the workplace. 

As the workplace gets more innovative and dynamic, fraternities must incorporate their core values, mission and vision throughout their leadership programs. Organizational values drive action and foster a reputation of those associated going forward to the given organization. It’s important that individuals cultivate character and value through each step of the leadership programs they go through. The result will allow the individual to validate strengths and recognize future opportunity to grow. Without instilling values or a pathway to develop skills, fraternity members miss out on an ample resource to identify and discover invaluable traits that could impact their future workplaces. If your workplace agrees with your core values, it will make work more enjoyable throughout your career. With these resources individuals are equipped to succeed in their workplace or start a new initiative in their fraternity through dedicating personal and professional development as part of their fraternity membership.

© 2015-2022 Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.
9 North Lewis Street, P.O. Box 1869, Lexington, Virginia 24450
Phone: (540) 463-1869 | Fax: (540) 463-1669 | Email: headquarters@sigmanu.org

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