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Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires | OPEN Forum

After years of emphasis being put on math and engineering degrees, here’s why English majors may be in high demand.
JULY 11, 2013
Years ago while interviewing an English major, I mentioned that—for many reasons—I liked hiring individuals who have a degree in the humanities. When I finished speaking, I noticed that the applicant was slightly choked up. He said, « You are the only person who has made me feel good about my degree. » It’s not uncommon for English majors—or anyone majoring in the humanities for that matter—to get a bad rap. Even Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, not too long ago said that people should get math-oriented degrees; otherwise, they will end up working in shoe stores.
We place a great value on a STEM education (degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics). But are the tables turning? Are hiring managers beginning to see the value that a liberal arts education—and an English major in particular—brings to the workplace? Recently, some high-profile businesspeople came out in favor of hiring English majors. Bestselling author and small-business expert Steve Strauss, for example, has admitted that « English majors are my employee of choice. » And Bracken Darrell, CEO of Logitech, had this to say: « When I look at where our business is going, I think, boy, you do need to have a good technical understanding somewhere in there, to be relevant. But you’re really differentiated if you understand humanities. »
The Popularity of English Majors
Employers are looking to hire English majors because these applicants bring a set of skills that businesses need:
Communication skills: In a recent Job Outlook Survey, employers rated the « ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization” as the most important candidate skill. Communication is at the heart of any business. Everything that happens in an organization requires communication. This is one of the areas in which English majors excel: They have learned to speak well; they are well-read and have an extensive vocabulary; they spend years learning how to present a thesis coherently, and how to construct an argument; and they are trained to debate and defend their point of view logically. Bringing an English major to the fold is a much needed salve for organizations today, where poor communication skills are the norm rather than the exception.
Writing skills: A Metlife survey found that 97 percent of business executives rate writing skills as very important. English majors—perhaps more than any other major—are trained to write well. A major part of what business owners do to gain clients has to do with writing, whether it’s writing an advertisement or a marketing brochure, a good sales letter or an email sales campaign. Businesses also need people who can create powerful content for the company blog, develop a strong social media presence and craft a compelling description of products and services for the company website. Even companies that conduct their sales on the phone or use telemarketers need to start with a good script. The ROI of writing is invaluable for any business.
Researching skills: All business owners need to stay current on changes and developments in their field. They also need to have absolute accuracy in any communications with clients. Having someone on staff who excels in conducting research is a very viable asset. English majors are drilled in conducting in-depth research.
Critical thinking skills: The ability to analyze an issue and question assumptions applies to all kinds of information in a business setting. English majors are taught to deconstruct and analyze a problem, and package their conclusion so others can understand their line of thought. These are highly transferable skills that are vital for the success of a business.
Empathy: More and more, businesses are recognizing the importance of empathy in the workplace. In The ‘Soft Skill’ That Pays $100,000+, author George Anders discovered over 1,000 listings for highly paid jobs where employers list empathy as a necessary qualification. And these were not just jobs in traditionally compassionate sectors, such as health care and nonprofits; they included companies in technology, finance, consulting and aerospace, to name a few. Think Microsoft, Dell, Raytheon, Symantec, Pfizer and McKinsey.
There are numerous studies that correlate empathy with increased sales, with the best performing managers of product development teams and with greater efficiency in an increasingly diverse workforce. Empathy is indeed the oil that keeps relationships running smoothly. Dan Pink, in A Whole Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule The Future, lists six areas that are vital for success in the new economy market—one of these is empathy. As he puts it, you can’t outsource empathy, or automate it. You need to have empathic people in your organization. 
How does this relate to English majors? A University of Toronto study on the effects of literature on empathy shows that those who read fiction frequently have higher levels of cognitive empathy; i.e., the ability to understand how another person feels. Keith Oatley, one of the researchers, said the reason fiction improves empathy is because it helps us to « understand characters’ actions from their interior point of view, by entering into their situations and minds, rather than the more exterior view of them that we usually have. » This improves interpersonal understanding and enhances relationships with customers and business associates. When you hire an English major, you’re likely hiring someone who brings cognitive empathy to the table.
The Beginning of a Trend
So is a wider range of employers recognizing the value of a liberal arts education? « There is a pattern, » says Dr. Jane Robbins of the University of Arizona, « of employers asking for more liberal-arts training for all kinds of professions—engineering, medicine, the law, and certainly management. » She adds, « Many people may not know that philosophy and English, not just biology, are common undergraduate majors for physicians. »  
David Boyes, CEO of Sine Nomine, a technology consulting company, says, “We don’t need mono-focused people. We need well-rounded people.” His company puts all new hires through a one-year training program that covers the basics—like how to write an effective business document—and includes some philosophy and history.
The Association of American Colleges and Universities conducted a recent survey of what employers want from new hires. Its survey report, It Takes More Than a Major: Employer Priorities for College Learning and Student Success, shows that more than half of business executives want college graduates to have not only field-specific knowledge and skills, but a broad range of skills and knowledge. They place less value on the undergraduate major and more on a capacity to think critically, communicate clearly and solve complex problems. In an interview, Debra Humphreys, vice president at The AACU, said that the economic downturn has “put a premium on college graduates who are really multifaceted … people who have both broad knowledge and skills, as well as field-specific skills.” According to Humphreys, this concern has intensified over the years.
What Does This Trend Mean for You?
The trend of employers looking for both field-specific skills and broad skills indicates that employees who combine a liberal arts major—especially an English major—with another major degree, such as business, science or technology, will have a competitive advantage. If businesses continue to look for  and hire such individuals, they will no doubt have a positive impact on the workplace by creating more diversity in an organization.
All companies can benefit from having a mix of left-brained and right-brained individuals on the team. Take IDEO, one of the most innovative companies in the world: One of the components for innovation at IDEO is having extremely diversified teams solve problems that are traditionally handled by monolithic groups, such as just engineers or just designers. Instead, IDEO‘s innovation teams include 10 different types. One of these is The Caregiver, who uses empathy to understand each individual customer and create a relationship; another is The Storyteller, who captures the imagination with compelling narratives in whatever medium best fits the message: video, animation, even comic strips.
As a business owner, you could gain an edge in the global marketplace and be better positioned for success with such multifaceted individuals in your camp. Have you hired an English major yet?
Read more articles on hiring.
Bruna Martinuzzi is the founder of Clarion Enterprises Ltd., and the author of two books: Presenting with Credibility: Practical Tools and Techniques for Effective Presentations and The Leader as a Mensch: Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow.

Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires | OPEN Forum
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Fitnah Campaign

End sex segregation at UK Universities
 
 
24 November 2013
 
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Universities UK (UUK) has issued guidance on external speakers saying that the segregation of the sexes at universities is not discriminatory as long as “both men and women are being treated equally, as they are both being segregated in the same way.” The guidance has been supported by the National Union of Students.
 
UUK add that universities should bear in mind that “concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system” and that if “imposing an unsegregated seating area in addition to the segregated areas contravenes the genuinely-held religious beliefs of the group hosting the event, or those of the speaker, the institution should be mindful to ensure that the freedom of speech of the religious group or speaker is not curtailed unlawfully.”
 
We, the undersigned, condemn the endorsement of gender apartheid by Universities UK. Any form of segregation, whether by race, sex or otherwise is discriminatory. Separate is never equal and segregation is never applied to those who are considered equal. By justifying segregation, Universities UK sides with Islamist values at the expense of the many Muslims and others who oppose sex apartheid and demand equality between women and men.
 
The guidance must be immediately rescinded and sex segregation at universities must come to an end.
 
Join initial list of signatories below by signing the petition here.
 
Initial List of Signatories:
 
A C Grayling, Philosopher
Abhishek N. Phadnis, President, London School of Economics Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Anissa Helie, Academic
Charlie Klendjian, Secretary of Lawyers’ Secular Society
Chris Moos, Secretary, London School of Economics Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society
Deborah Hyde, Editor of Skeptic magazine
Deeyah Khan, Film Director and Music Producer
Dilip Simeon, Chairperson of the Aman Trust
Elham Manea, Author
Faisal Gazi, Writer and Blogger
Fatou Sow, International Coordinator of Women Living Under Muslim Laws
Gita Sahgal, Director, Centre for Secular Space
Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizen’s Web
Helen Palmer, Chair of London Humanists
Kate Smurthwaite, Comedian and Activist
Marieme Helie Lucas, Coordinator, Secularism is a Women’s Issue
Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson for One Law for All and Fitnah
Mina Ahadi, International Committee against Stoning
Nadia El Fani, Tunisian Filmmaker
Nahla Mahmoud, Spokesperson of Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
Ophelia Benson, Writer
Pavan Dhaliwal, Head of Public Affairs of the British Humanist Association
Peter Tatchell, Director of Peter Tatchell Foundation
Polly Toynbee, Journalist
Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters
Raheem Kassam, Director of Student Rights
Richard Dawkins, Scientist
Rohini Hensman, Social Activist
Rory Fenton, President of The National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies of the UK and ROI
Rupert Sutton, Lead Researcher of Student Rights
Safia Lebdi, Founder, “Les insoumis-es”
Salil Tripathi, Writer
Soad Baba Aissa, President, of Association pour l’ Egalité, la Mixité et la Laicité en Algérie
Terry Sanderson, President of National Secular Society
Yasmin Rehman, Women’s Rights Campaigner
 
*  There will be a protest in London on 10 December 2013, International Human Rights Day, to oppose sex segregation. You can join Facebook Events Page here.
 
* Teams of Sex Apartheid Busters are being organised to break segregation wherever it is instituted. To join email maryamnamazie@gmail.com

Fitnah Campaign
http://fitnah.org/fitnah_campaign_english/uk_sex_segregation.html

The End of the Public University? | LinkedIn

About 8 out of every 10 college students attends a public college or university, from the local community college down the street to the massive flagship university in the middle of the state usually known for its football team. Of those students who go to public universities, most of them—some 70%—go to smaller, regional public colleges that train a majority of our teachers, nurses, and local business leaders.
The vastness and popularity of our public colleges and universities typically surprises audiences when I mention them in talks about my book on the future of higher ed. After all, only two of the top 25 national universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report are public institutions, and the first one of those (University of California at Berkeley) doesn’t appear until #20. And if you pay attention to the national media, most of the attention is showered on universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, or small liberal-arts colleges such as Amherst and Williams.
Public universities rarely get much attention unless they reject your son or daughter, raise their tuition, or if their football team wins a national championship.
But given how many Americans are educated at public universities, especially at a time when a college degree is about the only ticket left to the middle class, we all have a stake in their future health. And right now, the signs for the health of many of these public institutions are not good.
Just this past week, Moody’s Investors Service, which rates the debt of mostly stable colleges, reported that 72% of four-year public universities are experiencing essentially flat or declining net-tuition revenue. That’s the money these colleges have left over after giving out financial aid to invest in buildings, academic programs, and faculty. In other words, most of these colleges are either treading water when it comes to new revenue or losing money every year.
“Public universities have not experienced such poor prospects for tuition-revenue growth in more than two decades,” the report said.
Now, if you’re a student or parent paying tuition at one of these colleges, you’re probably wondering why they are crying poor when your bill goes up every year even as it gets more difficult to enroll in the classes needed to complete a degree.
The problem is that these institutions have been raising tuition year after year to make up for declines in dollars from the state. Since 2008, 41 states have cut funds to higher education. At just 1 in 10 public universities do state funds make up the largest proportion of the university’s budget; in 2003, states made up the largest provider at half of the public universities.
Not all of these institutions, of course, are innocent victims in this tale. Even after years of budget cuts, many are still inefficient in their operations and in desperate need of adopting more innovative business models. But such changes can only go so far before the core of the academic product suffers.
As the numbers from Moody’s seem to indicate, public colleges and universities don’t have much pricing power left to raise tuition to make up for cuts in state aid. So unless they get infusions of cash from elsewhere, what’s likely to happen is what is already occurring in places like California, where public colleges are turning away qualified applicants and where current students find it more difficult each semester to get into the classes they need to graduate.
What’s happening to public higher education is reaching crisis proportions. So as you cheer for State U. in the big football game this weekend, be thankful for the system we have that has educated generations of Americans because it might not be around much longer, at least in its current form.
Jeffrey Selingo is author of College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means for Students, contributing editor at The Chronicle of Higher Education, and a professor of practice at Arizona State University. Follow him here by clicking the FOLLOW button above, at jeffselingo.com, and on Twitter @jselingo

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The End of the Public University? | LinkedIn
http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131126141548-17000124-the-end-of-the-public-university