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Lack of 'get up and go' attitude in UK graduates is enough to concern employers


Conservative politician Norman Tebbit may have been wrong about a lot of things but when he said "get on your bike" for a job he was spot on.

It was 30 years ago when Tebbit dished out his advice to millions of unemployed people. But in those four words he summed what should be the golden rule for all present and future job seekers - attitude is everything.

And frankly while today's UK graduates may know more about Norman Tebbit from their history lessons then current affairs his sage words have never been more apt or more of the moment.

I know because I have seen exactly what a difference it makes to have that "get on your bike" attitude and the problem is there are some British graduates who just don't have it. Worse then that - among them are those who expect someone to not only bring the job to them but provide the bike to get there.

And it means many of them are sadly lacking behind graduates from a number of other countries who do understand it takes determination, commitment and a can-do approach to stay ahead in the jobs market.

They could learn so much from those eager young people now emerging from universities in China, Poland and India willing and ready to start building successful careers by going that extra mile to make it work for them.

As head of Antal Global Recruitment I have more than 100 offices in over 30 countries and I am greatly concerned about the lack of "get up and go" among a lot of British university leavers, not all of course but enough to concern British employers.

The stark reality is that they are no longer in pole position in the international jobs market because there is too many that don't push hard enough to be up there. In fact I wouldn't even place them in the top ten. Frightening, maybe, but true. As is the list of reasons why they are now so far behind.

I would say the current generation of graduates are sometimes far too arrogant in terms of what they expect they deserve when they actually lack the vocational skills and degrees they need for the world of work. Too many of them are happy to fritter away years of study on courses which have no relevance to the career they want to pursue and don't even then use that time to develop other skills and attributes which may help them to get ahead.

We work in countries all across the world and are constantly reminded of the efforts many job-seekers will go to in order to get a job. They don't assume going to university is enough and seem to understand it takes hard work and perseverance to prove themselves. Unfortunately, you can't say the same for the majority of British graduates.

Our vast experience of the industry shows that if you want lack-lustre, uninspired graduates then Britain is the place to go.

By comparison, the Chinese, Indian and Polish are streets ahead.

Graduates in these countries don't have a self-inflated air of importance, they just want to knuckle down and get on with it. Their studies are relevant, they work hard in their holidays to achieve relevant vocational skills and they are constantly improving their employability.

But while the picture is bleak it is far from hopeless. I do believe some have lost their way for now but all graduates in Britain can and should be so much better.

My starting point is everyone is employable, they just have to realise it. With unemployment figures predicted to get worse it is also about driving the point home now that they need to pick up their game and improve to even be in with a chance in the future.

Firstly graduates should find out a) what they are good at, and b) what they like doing. If they are the same, brilliant, if not don't worry about it.

Make either a) or b) work for you and don't take no for an answer. I hear a lot of moaning about no jobs being available but not enough in terms of constructive plans to change their own individual situation among British graduates. So there may be no job in your chosen field or very few positions? Adapt and find out where there is a job and what you need to do to get it and then do what is needed to put yourself ahead of the competition. Do your research well before an interview and be the person they can't afford not to have on staff. Be part of the can-do generation rather than the why bother.

The Indians, Chinese are the most employable graduates in the world. Why?

Because they want it the most.

Tony Goodwin, head of Antal Global Recruitment