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Graduates still don't have enough work-based skills, survey finds

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Two out of five graduate recruiters (40%) believe university leavers today do not have the work-based skills to attain an entry-level graduate role in their company, according to new research from Totaljobs.

The survey of recent graduate employers outlines two skills sets that graduates are consistently failing to demonstrate in their interviews. Two in five graduate recruiters (40%) cited business acumen as lacking in today's university leavers, with 22% stating that communication skills were below par. A similar view is held by graduates themselves, with only half believing that their university experience is providing them with the right skills for a post graduation job.

This lack of confidence has lead to almost a quarter (22%) expecting to be unemployed twelve months after leaving university and one-in-ten not recommending Higher Education at all.

Mike Fetters, graduate director at Totaljobs, said: "Much has been made of the lack of graduate jobs available today. However with a 72% increase in jobs available over the past six months, it seems that the real problem is the skills gap for graduates today that seems to be emerging - one that the introduction of student fees could further exacerbate." Overwhelmingly, 83% of graduate recruiters believe a closer collaboration between businesses and universities is needed to fill the skills gap for university leavers today. Interestingly though, they ultimately believe that it is the universities (82%) and graduate themselves (72%) whose responsibility it is to better equip graduates with skills to use in the world of work.

Fetters added: "We have a real chance to champion a collaboration between universities and employers which I believe can really make a difference. With just over half of graduates utilising their careers service and only 34% of those finding it useful, there is an opportunity for employers to work with careers services to better the offering to final-year students." Many graduate recruiters believe that the introduction of student fees will make a considerable difference, with 71% stating this will affect the range and quality of university leavers employers have to choose from. Over half (52%) stated that the UK PLC will suffer in the future due to a decreased pipeline of graduates.

However, the group is split in terms of whether they will offer alternative employment routes, with 48% seeing this as a viable option and 52% keeping to their current graduate employment model. For those that are considering other routes, 61% would take on school leavers and 48% providing vocational training.