Employer survey shows value of TTU graduates

The proof is in the performance when it comes to evaluating Tennessee Tech University graduates in the workplace.

In a recently released survey, almost 99 percent of employers responding agreed that TTU graduates are excellent employees. The survey, administered by a university interdisciplinary committee, also provided data about the strengths and weaknesses TTU graduates display on the job.

"If we understand what our employers need, we can convey this to our students as we coach them through the résumé and interview process," said Alice Camuti, TTU Career Services director and a member of the committee. "In addition, we can use these same attributes to promote TTU students and graduates to new businesses that we are cultivating and trying to bring on campus to recruit our students."

The survey identified the most important skills companies and organizations look for in employees. The top skills included problem-solving, communication and teamwork. Employers also rated life-long learning, critical thinking, knowledge of ethical guidelines and technical skills as very important.

Employers were asked to cite the number one reason for hiring TTU graduates. Forty-one percent said the graduates were hired for their strong education combined with technical skills. The next five most mentioned categories were the quality of the graduate, positive past experience with TTU graduates and co-ops, strong work ethic, the proximity of the graduate to the employer and ability to learn.

More than 85 percent of employers either agreed or strongly agreed that recent TTU graduates excelled in all but one of the top skills they look for in employees.

"We all know that we have a great academic program at TTU, but to hear first hand from our employers that we have a great academic and technical foundation at TTU was very rewarding," said Camuti. "I didn't think we had as far-reaching a reputation as we do and that is great news!

"In my interactions with students during the coaching process, I have clearly noticed that there was a need to improve our students' communications skills," she said. "The employer responses confirmed my observations and also solidified that our students have a strong reputation for their work ethic."

The only area TTU graduates scored lower in was communication skills. Still, 75 percent of employers agreed or strongly agreed that these graduates demonstrated excellent communication skills. Camuti says these findings were consistent with her experience with students.

Because one goal of the survey was to allocate university resources to produce better qualified graduates, the university revised its general education curriculum to include a required course in speech/professional communication. TTU has also adopted a new strategic goal to focus efforts on providing every undergraduate student the opportunity to participate in original research and service learning activities, as well as projects that require teamwork.

The comprehensive employer survey was the first of its kind conducted by TTU. Career Services started implementing customer satisfaction surveys in Fall 2002, tracking how satisfied employers are with service at career fairs and interviews on campus. During Spring 2003, the office surveyed employers regarding the preparation and attributes of students going through the interview process.

or more information from the employer survey, visit www.tntech.edu/employersurvey/.

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