The graduate skills gap has reared its ugly head again...

The skills gap between what employers want and what new graduates are capable of is today more prevalent than ever. A recent national survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder found that although 95% of UK firms will hire a graduate this year, only 23% believe that this graduate will arrive fully developed and ready to go, or to coin a phrase of one employer - ‘oven ready’.

We may ask ourselves where this issue stems from… Why the lack of interpersonal and people skills that 49% of employers felt their graduates lacked? Or the 40% falling short when it comes to problem solving?  Can universities be fairly charged with proffering graduates who need no extra help as they embark on their career?

Traditionally, universities have concentrated on solely teaching their students, rather than instilling in them the necessary life skills some seem to lack when finishing their degree. 53% of employers stated that they believe too much emphasis is placed on book learning rather than real world experience, which stunted graduates as they enter the workforce.

Alistair McCall, one of the editors of the Good University Guide, has said “University prospectuses are now full of programmes and initiatives promising to give students more than just a degree. They say they will equip students with the skills they need to make them more attractive to employers.” Moreover, “[another recent survey by] YouGov findings suggest this is an investment that is sorely needed. With the typical degree now costing £27,000 in tuition fees alone, students have a right to be better prepared for the battleground that is the graduate jobs market. The survey also shows how crucial it is to make an informed choice of course and university when investing so much money in a degree.”

Ultimately, the bread and butter skills when applying for a job and going for interview should never be overlooked – research and dressing smartly, posing the right questions, looking sharp and seeming engaged can be worth just as much as your degree certificate itself…

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