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Are graduates workplace ready?

After years of studying, attending inspiring lectures and seminars, creating memories, University, for most, becomes a safe space. A space where you can experiment, learn, and thrive safely in the knowledge a network of support is present.

Then, graduation arrives, and very quickly the realisation that it’s time to step outside of the comfort zone and into the world of work.

So, how many graduates are really workplace ready? How many possess the employability skills that support them in ‘hitting the ground running’?

pink shirt graduate

Recent research carried out by CMI* showed:

- 80% of employers believe graduates do not arrive in the workplace with the skills they need to be work-place ready

- 95% of employers believe it would be beneficial for graduates to undertake employability training’

The report goes on to say ‘many students feel that, while they have some skills that employers want, they do not always have clarity on which skills will get them ahead in the workplace – or how to evidence these.’

Roxanne Stockwell comments on similar research carried out by Pearson Business School** “There have been great gains in recent years in integrating higher education with industry, but clearly there is still more to be done,” Stockwell said. “Educational institutions need to collaborate with business to ensure students develop skills such as leadership and negotiation to enhance the employability of today’s young workforce.”

This research found people professionals felt:

- 69 percent of graduates were only ‘somewhat’ ready for the workplace 
- 13 percent of graduates were ready “to hit the ground running” after university.

 

So, what are these missing skills and what can graduates do to gain them?

Many of the skills missing are the human ones, the skills that set you up for the long-term, the ones you need for all areas of life, not just in work. Many refer to these as soft skills - we like to call them Power skills as there’s nothing soft about them!

Power skills include: Critical thinking and problem solving, Communication, Empathy, Resilience, Emotional Intelligence, Team-working and collaboration, Flexibility and adaptability, Initiative and self-direction and Innovation and creativity.

These skills are crucial for people to work cohesively, to help create working environments that are empathic and inclusive and where people support each other in doing meaningful work.

For some lucky graduates, employability programmes already exist, and some universities are even closely linked with large organisations that help them in shaping these. Both sets of research show the employability skills of graduates have been a topic at the forefront of both Universities and employers alike for some time. Yes, we’ve all had a pandemic to navigate, however, numbers like 80% are hard to ignore.

So, where is the disconnect – the university, the graduate, the employer? And how do we bridge the power skills gaps?

Matt Swarbrick, Director of Partnership Sales at CMI said of the research “All of us have a responsibility to help students across all courses achieve positive outcomes. That starts with providing them with the core employability skills that they’ll need to get their foot on the ladder.”

Every graduate is different, their work experience and life skills varied but what is clear is a lack of power skills is having a negative impact on what they can achieve, and how quickly they will achieve it.

Imagine the possibilities of a graduate workforce fully capable of all skills, from day one.

The solution?

We’re working on it.

 

*https://www.managers.org.uk/knowledge-and-insights/research/building-employability-skills/

**https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/article/1744896/graduates-not-workplace-ready#:~:text=Nearly%20a%20fifth%20of%20graduates,because%20they%20lacked%20crucial%20skills.

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