Study finds students lack teamworking skills

Ellie Breed

Doing Innovation, a research initiative funded by the MacArthur Foundation, determined that today’s students need skills that help them work seamlessly as part of a team, physical spaces that allow for creative collaboration and better educational preparation for the modern competitive labor market.

These findings are based on the results of a study conducted by radio-television-film professor Craig Watkins and a team of graduate students. The study determined, through interviews and observations of high school students and professionals, that there are new educational needs that aren’t being met to prepare students for the modern workforce, Watkins said in a press release.

At UT, however, programs such as Maker Space, engineering studios at the Cockrell School of Engineering and new degree programs through the Moody College of Communication and the College of Fine Arts are addressing students’ needs, Watkins said in the release.

“We’re fortunate that at UT-Austin, there are already programs addressing new educational needs,” Watkins said. “But our research suggests there is room for improvement at all levels of the education system.”

Public relations freshman Sarah Clark Ballard said extracurricular activities in some high schools are fulfilling the need for collaborative education.

“Activities like yearbook, in my case, definitely prepared me for a work environment,” Ballard said. “We had to sell ads to actual companies, and then we would have to design them according to their requests. It was a very collaborative experience.”

It is the responsibility of a student to seek out collaborative opportunities to prepare them for the work force, according to political communications sophomore Cody Church.

“It is absolutely essential that a graduate possess the necessary skills to function as a member of a team effectively,” Church said. “I think finding a student organization that works for you is extremely important, but ultimately it falls on each individual student to network with professionals in the field they hope to work in.”

The study revolved around young professionals who are navigating a complex economy and how collaboration is central to their success, Watkins said in the release.

“Doing Innovation is about the young women and men who toil creatively and passionately in the vital edges of our economy,” Watkins said. “The end result: a unique collaboration with creatives, knowledgeable workers, artists, designers, social innovators and entrepreneurs who are building their own economy through sheer grit and ingenuity while facing unprecedented uncertainty.”