Many undergraduates still have the idea that if they want a good job they simply need to get good grades, go to university, get more good grades and then wait for an employer to snap them up.
If only getting a graduate level job was that simple. Developing the talent you need to get a top job has become a much more complicated process, and graduates aren’t the only ones baffled by the challenge.
Three things became very clear during a recent event organised by London Higher and hosted by Barclays to discuss how to help graduates develop the skills businesses need.
- We haven’t moved forward over the last five years. While universities and employers are working together to help students get jobs both sides are still asking the same question as five years ago – What’s needed to prepare graduates for the workplace? In 2008, the CBI, which represents business interests, said there was a need for employees with higher level skills. In 2013 they are still saying the same thing, so there are still gaps in our knowledge about what works best.
- Employers are feeling the pressure. From your multinational employer like Barclays to your small to medium size employer like Z-Cards, employers are still struggling to find the best talent. Businesses are desperate for talent that will help them remain innovative and competitive, for forward-thinkers with fresh ideas that will help them to grow but the resources needed to scout out the best talent are limited.
- Careers services are feeling the pressure. Many universities are also struggling to prepare their students for top jobs. When you have 27,000 students and 30 advisers working in the university careers department it is impossible for staff to provide the individualised one to one coaching needed to help graduates prepare for work. It is no wonder then that 85 per cent of UK students never attend their career service…
The solution: Roadmap to a graduate level job
It has been clear to us for some time that there is a roadmap to getting a graduate level job. If a graduate is unaware of this then he or she is going to struggle terribly to find a job on graduating. The roadmap should start at the very latest from the moment you start university but ideally well before while you are still at school.
A common sense name for this roadmap is a ‘graduate work plan’. It should work in the same way as your three-year career plan, with milestones and signposts to help a graduate navigate his or her way towards identifying and developing the essential skills and aptitudes needed to find graduate level employment.
Graduates need to be proactive
Another thing that became apparent when our group of employers and universities came together is that each side thinks that the other should be the one doing more. Employers think it is the role of universities to supply them with work-ready graduates, while universities think employers need to play a greater role to help graduates develop the skills businesses needed.
Graduates cannot wait while employers and universities continue to debate this problem. They must go out and acquire the soft skills needed. The best universities are those that clearly communicating this crucial message to their students with a mix of provision and opportunity for them to develop employability skills.
One example might be Ravensbourne, which gets 90 per cent of its grads into work by the time they graduate. That’s pretty good considering that 49 per cent of graduates never get a graduate level job. The university has a programme that starts getting them industry ready from day one by looking at everything from CV development to networking, special events to opportunities for students to get out into the workplace to do short bursts of freelance jobs. It means that by end of the three years they are already out there working.
Another example is UEL. The university has a credit points system to encourage their graduates to develop the employability skills they need. The process is self-perpetrating since in order to be successful at it you need to use the very skills it is trying to encourage you to gain – self-motivation, problem solving, initiative, resilience and the like.
Then there is Greenwich university which has an innovative programme with a Reed employment office on campus dedicated to getting graduates jobs.
It is this type of roadmap approach to preparing graduates for work that we excel at here at Graduate Coach. We create individualised career coaching programmes for graduates, which essentially telescopes all their learnings from their degree and various work experiences into a new comprehensible CV that emphasises their CBI soft skills.
We then work with them to work out what they would be good at, help them apply for jobs, show them where to apply and last and most importantly of all, coach them in interview techniques.
It is because we help graduates demonstrate the skills employer wants why we have a 100 per cent success rate at helping graduates find good jobs.