In the current economic climate, it is essential that graduates are prepared to enter the workplace, possessing key employability skills which will enable them to compete in today’s job market. Universities and employers both have an important role to play in providing work placements, internships and opportunities which can assist in the development of these skills such as campus talks from employers and specific employability modules.
Future fit , produced and published by the Confederation of Brirish Industry, highlights some of the positive work being done by universities and employers to provide these opportunities but as the report suggests there is still scope for universities, employers and indeed students to do more to address employability. Where business-university links are not yet established, engagement must be encouraged – particularly for SMEs who may be less confident in establishing these links having fewer resources with which to provide work placements. Businesses of all sizes and sectors must get involved with the employability agenda not least because doing so will provide them with a better pool of graduates from which to recruit.
A survey of undergraduates conducted for the report, found that 35% of students would have liked to have taken part in a special programme to develop their employability skills but this was not offered. This suggests that there is unmet demand among students in the provision of these opportunities. One of the key messages to come out of the report was the need for universities and businesses to ‘up their game’ in the development of employability skills in students – both in terms of the number of placements on offer and in terms of course content. Both universities and students need to recognise that employability skills should not be treated as an ‘add on’ but as an essential part of the university curriculum.
This report features 13 case studies from both employers and universities which highlight the constructive work already being done on employability. With findings from surveys of employers, universities and students – the report goes on to present some ‘key lessons’ for all three groups as to how they can better address this area and ensure our graduates are equipped with the skills they need in the workplace.