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DEVELOPING SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE GRADUATES PERCEPTIONS OF CAREER SKILL PREPAREDNESS AND IMPORTANCE AFTER A FOUR YEAR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM DEVELOPING SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE GRADUATES PERCEPTIONS OF CAREER SKILL PREPAREDNESS AND IMPORTANCE AFTER A FOUR YEAR UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM Abstract Agricultural Education programs nationwide are challenged with producing well prepared career oriented and competent graduates for the agricultural workforce Institutions must continue to evaluate progress toward this goal This study was a five year 2000 2004 follow up of graduates from a large land grant institution in the southern region The researchers sought to capture graduates perceptions of the skills necessary to be successful in the agricultural workforce The questionnaire gauged graduates perceptions on two scales their skill preparedness and skill importance in the workplace The intent was for participants to respond using their initial job after graduation as a reference point Overall findings indicate that graduates believe they were somewhat prepared for their careers but they recognize the importance of being better prepared in the areas of interpersonal communications character and computer skills The Borich 1980 needs assessment model demonstrated that these four areas should be priorities for revision in the current departmental curriculum Introduction The first charge to land grant universities when established in 1862 was to develop at the college level instruction relating to the practical realities of an agricultural and industrial society NASULGC 1995 13 In the 144 years of land grant development the face of agriculture has changed significantly and colleges of agriculture subsequently were impacted by this shift Manderschied 1988 This shift was largely a result of the decline in U S agriculture production McKinley Brikenholz Stewart 1993 and identification of agriculture industry needs over the past ten years has strengthened the argument to include non



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