Many people believe that a multidisciplinary BA degree program like Liberal Studies is of no direct relevance to the workplace, but recent research suggests that this impression is utterly misleading: in fact, the skills the program promotes are in extremely high demand.
According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce's Focus 2000 report, "The knowledge and skills required in today's labour force are general, rather than specific to any firm or industry. Businesses need employees who can read, write and compute, but these employees must also be problem solvers, decision makers, effective communicators, and willing to learn new skills."
These are exactly the skills which Liberal Studies enhances. They provide a sound basis for further development in a wide range of fields. Accordingly, many graduates of Liberal Studies have been successful in advanced education more specifically related to a particular occupation. They have completed graduate degrees in a wide range of subjects: Law, Architecture, Psychology, Philosophy, English, Public Administration, Education, History, Folklore Studies, Marine Archaeology, Women's Studies, Integrated Studies. They have entered the teaching profession at the elementary, middle, secondary and university levels, and have taught ESL in Canada, and throughout Asia and Europe. Our graduates include artists, dancers, web-designers, software-designers and testers, social workers, communications personnel, and managers in government and corporate settings.
They have been able to do this because the unique pedagogy of the Liberal Studies program devotes special attention to developing an advanced level of generic employment skills: careful reading and clear writing, creative and critical thinking, historical and social perspective, scientific literacy, public speaking, group discussion, problem-solving and computer literacy.
The Conference Board of Canada placed great emphasis on the importance of these skills in its 1993 Employability Skills Profile. Furthermore, an article in the Toronto Globe and Mail in early 2001 reported that the CEOs of 30 companies, most of them in the high-tech sector (including the Canadian branches of IBM, Compaq, Motorola, EDS and Cisco Systems), issued a statement strongly endorsing the need for liberal arts education. While agreeing that Canada needs more technology graduates, the CEOs said it is impossible to operate an effective corporation by employing these people alone. They felt there was a strong need too for those with a broader background who can work in tandem with technical specialists, helping to create and manage the corporate environment. They also noted that many of their technology workers were stronger for having begun their education in the humanities: by acquiring the level of cultural and civic literacy which the humanities offer, the employees increased their value to themselves, to their companies, and to the economy as a whole. The prevailing opinion of the Canadian corporate world is supported by academic research, for example Michael Useem: Liberal education and the corporation: the hiring and advancement of college graduates, New York, Aldine de Gruyter, 1990.
There is no better preparation for today's workplace.