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Graduates with employability skills will get the jobs, says CBI boss Richard Lambert

Work experience is more important today than it has ever been, according to the director general of the CBI.

Launching a report on preparing graduates for work, Richard Lambert said employers should place more emphasis on "employability skills" such as problem-solving and customer-awareness when recruiting graduates.

The research shows 78% of employers think employability skills are essential when recruiting graduates - while 70% do not specify degree subject and 80% do not think the university attended has a big influence in hiring decisions.

Lambert said: "To say the class of 2009 will not have it easy after graduation is an understatement - competition for jobs will be the most intense for many years.

"Of course businesses do not expect graduates to arrive on day one fully trained, but what they do value in graduates are their people skills, a focus on the customer and a keenness to solve problems. It is no good graduates regretting not taking up opportunities once they leave university - many universities are keen to help them gain work experience during their degree course."

Also speaking at the launch event, Rich Trainor, president of Universities UK, said: "There is no doubt in may sectors this year's graduates will be facing stiff competition for jobs due to the recession. This report nevertheless tells a positive story, demonstrating how highly employers value UK graduates and the extent to which they see working with students as having a recognisable business benefit."