Employers think graduates are unprepared for the workplace
Rachel Muller-Heyndyk, December 17, 2019
Businesses feel that nearly a fifth (17%) of graduates are not ready for the workplace, according to research from qualification body Pearson
The study highlighted the crucial skills that are still missing within the graduate workforce, with leadership (48%), negotiation (44%) and strategy and planning (38%) coming up top.
While 69% of HR managers said that graduates are somewhat ready for the workplace, only 13% felt that graduates were ready to hit the ground running, the research stated.
Several graduates (18%) also believe that university did not fully equip them for the world of work, with the identified missing skills closely aligning with those identified by HRs: leadership (34%), negotiation (25%) and technical skills (23%).
However, HR managers stated that recently-employed graduates do arrive into the workplace well equipped with teamwork skills (76%), problem solving (76%), communication skills (75%) and research skills (75%).
The survey also found many new graduates feel underprepared when engaging with graduate recruitment processes, with just one in four (24%) having prepared for the job application process by undertaking a mock interview while at university.
This is despite almost all (99%) HR managers suggesting that face-to-face interviews are a form of assessment they undertake when recruiting.
The research also found that just over a third (37%) of graduates spoke to a career advisor prior to leaving university, while only 35% had enhanced their online profile.
Businesses view relevant work experience as vital for applicants and over 61% of HRs said that relevant work experience is more important than the grades achieved by graduates.
This is on top of the 48% which said relevant work experience is very important when recruiting employees, alongside demonstrable interest in the type of work (67%) and performance in an interview (60%).
The survey results correspond with a joint report by the CBI and Pearson, Education and learning for the modern world, which found that two-fifths (40%) of employers are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the wider character, behaviours, and attributes of school and college leavers.
A third (33%) were found to be either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied by the amount of relevant work experience young people have.
Roxanne Stockwell, principal of Pearson College London, said that there must be greater collaboration between educators and businesses to improve skills.
"There have been great gains in recent years in integrating higher education with industry, but clearly there is still more to be done,” she said.
“Educational institutions need to collaborate with business to ensure students develop skills such as leadership and negotiation in order to enhance the employability of today’s young workforce. The survey shows that there is an appetite for this among both students and employers.”
The findings come from a Pearson Business School survey of 1,012 graduates and 531 senior HR managers from across the UK, performed by polling company Survation.