This briefing paper will explore the challenges of equipping graduates with relevant employability skills. The issue here is that graduates from higher institutions of learning have degrees and understand what is expected of them in the field and the job requirements; however, they do not have the relevant employability skills. This is a major aspect of graduates joining the finance or business sector and posses financial or business degrees. This is because there is high competition from individuals who do not have degrees but have enough experience to perform the duties. This highly affects individuals belonging to these sectors (Andrews & Higson, 2008, p. 423). This paper explores information on the background, current research, current issues, implications for employers and HELs, conclusion and recommendations.
This part of the paper will provide background information on the challenges of equipping graduates with employability skills including how this situation was developed, the previous problems, and the relevant actions taken to solve this problem (ONS, 2013, p.1). This problem has been in exisistence for the past 22 years as the figure above indicates that there was an increase of the percentage of graduates from 17% in 1992 to more than double in 2012 with a 34%. The major cause of this problem is the rising affordability of university, however, there is an increase in financial and academic needs to join university, and therefore this trend is expected to reduce in the coming years although competition between graduates and non-graduates will still be high. The responsibility of attaining relevant employability skills had been left to the graduates themselves, however, universities are now trying to help these graduates (Fugate et al, 2004, p. 15). A good example is giving students 1 day every week so that they can go for an internship to acquire employability skills. Additionally, students can be provided with loans or grants to assist them establish their own businesses.
Current research carried out by ONS comprise a full report on graduates in the labor market in 2013. It also entails disparities between non-graduates and graduates categorized into GCSEs, no qualifications; A-levels and equipment. This report indicate that the employment rate for graduates is high, and a lower employment and inactivity rate than any individual with a lower qualification as shown in the figure above (ONS, 2013, p. 1). This report confirms against the argument that graduates do not have developed emploloyability skills compared with other graduates who are less qualified. There are various reasons to explain this data for instance, the rising number of graduate poison that non graduates cannot secure jobs hence lowering the likelihood of non-graduates getting jobs. Additionally, graduates will secure job positions for non-graduates enabling them to gain more job skills. It is also argued that graduates are more employed compared with the unqualified, nevertheless, it is quite challenging to know if it is because they are graduates or they have less or more employability skills.
Current issues could be that graduates do not have or they lack relevant employability skills that they require for their jobs. A study carried out the United Kingdom commission indicated that majority of the workers in England that had hired graduates below the age of 24 from higher education institutions during the previous 12 months found out that they were prepared to carry out their duties, with 84% of these graduates being well prepared for their jobs. Similar figures were also applicable to Northern Ireland and Scotland. The figures for employers who were happy with graduate’s skills were higher compared with those who were school leavers or those who had been employed for a longer period. The issue may not be that employees do not have the relevant employability skill, but they may not be willing and ready to utilize their employability skills until they get a job where they can put their skills into practice. Other skills could be that they do not secure a high enough skilled job to show their employability skills (Knight & Yoke, 2003, p. 18).
Key Considerations for employers
The major considerations for employers would include a summary of any significant facts, concerns, developments, and anything that is applicable for employers who want to recruit graduates. One of the vital things that employers must consider when hiring graduates is finding out the major general employability skills that graduates possess.
A study carried out by the United Kingdom commission for employment and skills indicated that approximately 1/5 of the employers were not pleased with the level of employability skills of graduates from UK (Belt et al, 2010, p. 4). This clearly imply that employers are supposed to hire graduates with employability skills that they are happy with, or they should be ready to equip them with relevant skills that can enable them carry out their duties.
Key Considerations for HEI (Higher Education Institutes)
The key considerations for higher education institutes will involve an outline of any significant facts, concerns, and developments and anything that is relevant for higher education institutes prepare graduates for ready employment. The higher education institutes are supposed to be informed of a situation that 1/5 of the employers were not happy with employment skills of the graduates that they had recruited (Hagan, 2008, p. 23). Additionally, they are supposed to be in a position to assist graduates improve their employability skills whether it is through taking them for a course or providing other alternatives for them outside the available course hours around the higher education institute. If there is no proper action taken, there will be a reduction in employment of graduates and students will see the reduction and may make a decision on whether to go or to go to the university. Students may also look for alternative ways of gaining experience and employment from other sources for instance, internships or apprenticeship.
There have been an increasing number of graduates between 1992 and 2012. This has resulted in high competition between graduates for job opportunities. This implies that graduates are supposed to become more competitive in order to secure jobs that they intend to perform. However, the United Kingdom commission for employment on skills research and employability indicates that 80% of the managers in the United Kingdom are happy with the employability skills of the graduates. This leaves a loophole because employers may be looking for other graduates to fill the position of graduates who have relevant skills. This makes graduates to remain in positions where they require good employability skills to get a job opportunity and maintain it. This also leaves new students with graduates in a position where they either require attaining the employability skills before they leave higher education and start looking for job opportunities.
Summary and Recommendations
This section of the briefing paper will recommend and suggest what is required to be done to either to improve the employability skills of graduates and students completing higher education. Additionally, it will inform manager what they are supposed to do when recruiting graduates to ensure that they get the appropriate employees with employability skills and they are happy with their skills so that they can perform the exact job and be of benefit the business. Firstly, employers should investigate if graduates have the right employability skills that they require before recruiting them and being dissatisfied with their performance. Secondly, higher education institutes should permit the students and potential graduates to create their own employability skills by giving them sufficient time off for part time jobs and come up with their own employability skills or give them particular time or units to help them in developing their own skills.
Furthermore, universities should equip students with relevant skills that are required by employers. Some of the initiatives that can be urgently executed are to set in methods and techniques of identifying a problem and finding a solution to it. Most significantly, students should be informed of the need to concrete-logic so that they can not only have knowledge of the subject, but also understand whatever they are taught in class (Suleiman et al, 2004, p. 25). On the other hand, lecturers are supposed to be exposed to several creative and critical thinking techniques to assist them teach their students on how to identify problems and get solutions to those problems. This can be accomplished by having constant involvement with industry in recognizing their evolving needs when it comes to solving industrial problems.
In conclusion, there is need for universities to constantly measure the level of satisfaction of employers with respect to the quality of graduates that are leaving universities.
Andrews, J. & Higson, H.E. (2008) Graduate employability, soft skills versus hard business knowledge; a European study. Higher Educ. In Europe, 33, 4, 411-422.
Belt, V., Drake, P. & Chapman, K. (2010). Employability Skills: A Research and Policy Briefing, s.l.: UK Commission for Employment and Skills.
Fugate, M., Kinciki, A.J. & Ashforth, B. (2004). Employability: a psychosocial construct, its dimensions, and applications. J. of vocational behavior, 65, 14-28
Hagan, D. (2008). Employer satisfaction with ICT graduates. Proc. Sixth Australian Computing educ. Conf. (ACE2004), Dunedin, New Zealand, CRPIT, 30, 4, 119-123.
Knight, P. & Yoke, M. (2003). Assessment, learning, and employability. Berkshire, England: The Higher Education Academy, McGraw-Hill.
ONS (2013). Graduates in the UK Labor Market 2013, London: office for national statistics.
Suleiman, E., Baharun, R., and Simpol, N.S (2004). Changing skills required by the industries: perceptions of what makes business graduates employable.