Oral Presentation Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2017

Preparing the Next Generation of Fisheries Professionals for Career Success (#4)

Steve McMullin 1
  1. American Fisheries Society, Fort Myers, FL, United States

We conducted a survey of American Fisheries Society (AFS) members to assess perceptions of the importance of knowledge in areas defined by the AFS certification program and how well students, university faculty members and employers felt graduates at the BS, MS and Ph.D. levels were prepared in those areas of knowledge and other job-related skills to succeed as entry-level professionals in fisheries.  We received responses from 1,490 AFS members.  All student and employer groups rated critical thinking, written communication and oral communication skills as most important in contributing to success of entry-level professionals.  The ability to communicate effectively with nontechnical audiences and to work effectively in teams also tended to rate higher in importance than nearly all academic subject areas.  Students had much greater confidence in the adequacy of their preparation to succeed as fisheries professionals than employers did in most areas of knowledge and skill.  Faculty members expressed slightly greater skepticism than students about graduates’ preparation to succeed, but faculty ratings of preparation generally exceeded those of employers significantly.  The greatest disparities in perceptions of the adequacy of preparation of graduates occurred in written communication and critical thinking skills.  Employers who hired entry-level fisheries professionals primarily at post-graduate levels (MS or Ph.D. degrees) generally assessed their new employees as better prepared to succeed as professionals than those employers who hired primarily at the bachelor’s degree level.  However, a significant gap in perceptions or preparedness by students, faculty and employers persisted at all education levels.  We believe that universities and employers and professional societies all have important, but distinct, responsibilities to address perceived deficiencies in knowledge and skills of graduates.