There’s a disconnect between Capital Region job opportunities and what students are studying

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The Baton Rouge Area Chamber released a “report card” today on an effort to connect LSU and Southern University students with local job opportunities and internships through the Handshake online platform. 

The results show a disconnect between students’ chosen areas of study and the jobs that local employers have to offer, at least for students and companies using the platform, the report says. 

“It’s not just a Baton Rouge problem; it’s an everywhere problem,” says Andrew Fitzgerald, BRAC’s senior vice president of business intelligence. “There does need to be an alignment nationwide between the pathways students are going into and what businesses are looking for in employees.”

Nationwide, the disconnect may be most pronounced in the science and technology fields collectively known as STEM. Those fields have plenty of high-paying jobs, but the United States has fewer people going into those fields than other nations, Fitzgerald says. 

“That’s not totally a higher ed issue; that’s a K-12 issue too,” he adds. 

BRAC launched the effort with LSU and Southern one year ago, with hopes of connecting local students with local companies and hopefully keeping more homegrown talent in the Capital Region. The report card issued today reflects the participation of the two four-year schools; Baton Rouge Community College, River Parishes Community College and FranU also have joined the effort but are not included in the first report card because there isn’t enough data available for those schools. 

“This is a historic joint commitment of our region’s traditional four-year institutions to be intentional about connecting students to local internship and job opportunities,” Adam Knapp, president and CEO of BRAC, said when the partnership was announced. “Now more than ever, talent drives economic development, and our college students are one of our greatest assets.”

For LSU, the top industries by the number of job postings are construction, oil and gas, and staffing and recruiting. The top three majors by student activations are biological sciences, kinesiology and psychology. 

For Southern, the top three industries by job postings are the government, nonprofit and health care sectors. The top three majors are nursing, criminal justice and mechanical engineering, so presumably there is overlap there between nursing majors and health care employers. 

Fitzgerald expects to see more overlap in future reports once FranU and the community colleges are included.