UCF joins national initiative to help transition students from college to workforce

Program will focus on first-generation, low-income students


ORLANDO, Fla. – The University of Central Florida was selected to participate in a national, three-year program designed to improve the student body's transition from college to related careers.

The initiative, known as Bridging the Gap from Education to Employment, will provide a national playbook that will help prepare students for professional work after graduation, focusing on first-generation and low-income individuals, according to a news release.

The University Innovation Alliance will lead UCF along with six other public research institutions, with a $2.4 million grant from the Strada Education Network, officials said. The other institutions are Arizona State University, Georgia State University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Purdue University and the University of California – Riverside.

The UCF team interviewed students about career expectations and concerns during the first phase of the project last year. They used the feedback to identify prominent core challenges and obstacles within the student body.

In the next project phase, 50 employers nationwide will work with participating institutions through workshops and activities to identify employer perspectives on student preparedness for the workforce. The participants will also examine employer needs and offer advice on overcoming any shortcomings.

The University Innovation Alliance plans to work with the group of employers to create new innovations that will help students’ transition from higher education to the workplace in the final phase of the project.

“At UCF, we’re helping students obtain a job that’s meaningful – one that leverages their skills, provides opportunities for growth and aligns with their passions,” UCF interim President Thad Seymour Jr. said. “That’s because we know how important it is to provide students with an education and support services that effectively equip them to succeed and thrive in the working world.”

Research gathered from a report by Strada Institute for the Future of Work suggests that a graduate’s first job can come with long-term economic issues. The report said 43 percent of college graduates are underemployed in their first post-college job, with more than 50 percent remaining underemployed 10 years after graduation.

In addition, more than 50 percent of UCF graduates received job offers or entered the workforce after graduation, and 83 percent of graduates have reported taking jobs related to their field of study.

At UCF, 1 in 4 individuals are first-generation college students, and the university has the third-highest amount of minority graduates nationwide.