MSU and IBM hosted the T-Summit to help identify tools necessary to design educational programs that promote the development of the T-shaped characteristics that are in high demand in the workforce.

Over the past decade, employers have been placing increased importance upon the mastery of competencies beyond those focused on the academic discipline. Corporate leaders are increasingly seeking college graduates who can work across organizational, geographic, cultural, and political boundaries who are critical thinkers, effective communicators, leaders and innovators. Higher education and corporate leaders alike recognize this is a growing challenge that needs to be addressed on a variety of fronts both on college campuses and in the workplace.

Employers are specifically looking to hire college graduates who are “T-shaped. That means the graduate not only has a high level of knowledge in her or his chosen field of study (the vertical bar of the T), but also has the ability to collaborate across disciplines and apply knowledge in areas of expertise other than their own (the horizontal bar of the T).

In an effort to close the college-to-career gap and devise ways to produce more of these highly employable individuals, Michigan State University and IBM hosted a discussion between corporate, professional, government and higher education leaders from across the nation. Called “T-Summit 2014: Cultivating Tomorrow’s Talent Today,” on March 24 and 25 in San Jose, Calif.  See photos from the T-Summit at in this photo album.

“Michigan State University has a long and proud history of graduating students who are ready to take their place in the workforce, to roll up their sleeves and tackle the many challenges facing our world,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, who is taking part in the summit. “I’m pleased to be a part of this summit and am confident the fruits of our work will benefit all students, employers and society as a whole.”

The summit created dialogue in which participants will collectively determine what each brings to the table and what each needs from the other in order to co-create leaders and innovators capable of addressing global challenges.

The summit will help identify tools necessary to design educational programs that promote the development of “T-shaped” characteristics that are in high demand in the workforce both today and in the future.

This meeting also will assist in establishing the educational foundation for an era of professionals who use new technologies, business models and societal innovation to make a positive impact on the world.

MSU’s College Employment Research Institute (CERI) regularly monitors what employers look for in college grads. CERI found that businesses are looking for individuals with the abilities to bridge the traditional boundaries between disciplines. These individuals are most commonly referred to as “hybrid,” “boundary spanners,” or “T-shaped” professionals.

The summit was held at IBM Research – Almaden, 650 Harry Road, San Jose, Calif. Among those taking part were MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon; Susan Puglia, vice president, IBM Academy of Technology and University Relations; as well as the presidents of several other U.S. universities, corporate leaders and representatives from professional and government agencies from across the country.

For more information, visit the T-Summit website.