The competitive landscape for undergraduate honors business programs both nationally and regionally is a crowded field favoring those institutions that can differentiate their "brand" through unique, distinctive program features that convince both students and parents that the honors program offers a superior undergraduate business educational experience leading to favorable employment and graduate and professional school opportunities. Academically talented undergraduate business students are recruited through academic scholarships and honors designations indicating a more rigorous course of study and academic achievement. Internship assistance and global immersion courses are desired features of undergraduate business honors programs as well.
The Smith Scholars Program - Minor in Political Economy achieves brand differentiation in the following ways:
Data on Employment Market Trends
The Smith Scholars Program's unique curricular and pedagogic approach develops WCB students who possess attributes most sought after by employers in the economic environment ushered in by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The World Economic Forum's 2016 report, The Future of Jobs Employment, Skills, and Workforce Strategy for the Fourth Industrial Revolution cites the top 10 skills companies will seek in talent recruitment by 2020:
Other data corroborates these emerging market trends. The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported in its 2016 Job Outlook Survey that employers favor recent college graduates who evidence the following: leadership (80.1%); ability to work in a team (78.9%); written communication skills (70.2%); problem-solving skills (70.2%); verbal communication skills (68.9%); strong work ethic (68.9%); initiative (65.8%); and analytical/quantitative skills (62.7%). These trends apply to technical fields as well. In a recent survey of IT professionals, 72% of respondents reported the need for hiring employees in technology fields with "soft skills" had increased in the past two years. Top "soft skills" sought after by this industry were: analytical thinkers (65%); good communicators (60%); troubleshooters (59%); strong integrity and ethical behaviors (58%); and ability to work under pressure (58%). Skills such as creative problem-solving eclipse core business competencies such as financial statement analysis as preferred attributes in employees, even in financial institutions such as banking.
Studies confirm that recruiting talent who possess these "soft skills" is challenging and the lack of candidates with these skills impacts a business organization's productivity. In a Wall Street Journal survey of approximately 900 executives, 92% stated that "soft skills" were "equally important or more important" than technical skills. 89% of these executives reported they have a "very" or "somewhat difficult" time recruiting job candidates with these attributes. A LinkedIn survey identified these sought-after "soft skills" to include communication skills, critical thinking, organization, creativity, and adaptability.