According to a recent survey by Career Builder, 95% of UK firms have plans to hire recent graduates. However, a surprising 23% actually felt that universities adequately prepare students for the working world.
Among the skills thought to be lacking were people skills, which 49% agreed were in shortage, as well as problem solving and creative thinking.
These results suggest that employers are of the belief that it’s the responsibility of universities and academic institutions to prepare young people for the world of work. Universities, however, encourage academic achievement and encourage students to gain workplace skills outside of the lecture hall, in extra-curricular activities and work experience, for example.
Are universities really to blame, or should employers be willing to offer more training to new recruits that are recent graduates?
There’s a good reason that graduate schemes are so popular for candidates and employers alike. They offer an easier transition into the workplace with a combination of work-based training as well as out of work study, allowing those who complete it a full-time placement at the end of the scheme – which they are already equipped for.
However, it can be argued that certain skills are harder to teach than others; i.e creative thinking is not a tangible skill in the same way that having a good knowledge of Excel is. Perhaps the real issue is that, with a huge influx in the number of graduates coming out of UK universities in the last five years, there is a more diluted pool of talent to choose from.
If the best graduates are getting snapped up by the highest paying graduate employers – or the biggest names – then it falls on recruiters to offer incentives to attract the best graduates. As well as this, recruiters also need to be wise to what identifies a strong graduate with potential. If current employers are being left unimpressed, perhaps they need to come up with new techniques to truly assess candidates.
It remains to be said that a high performing graduate from a good university that also has a wealth of workplace experience and skills is hard to come across. Companies without the budget to invest into training schemes may therefore continue to find graduates somewhat unready for work.