Graduates ill-prepared for the workplace, according to HR professionals

January 22nd 2020 | Posted by phil scott

Graduates ill-prepared for the workplace, according to HR professionals

According to research conducted by qualification body Pearson, nearly a fifth of graduates are not sufficiently prepared for life in the workplace. Vital skills that are considered to be missing include leadership, negotiation and strategy and planning.

As part of this research, 69% of HR managers felt that graduates had some level of preparation but only 13% felt that graduates were completely prepared for all aspects of the role and able to perform effectively from day one. It’s not all bad news. HR managers do believe that graduates are well-prepared in areas such as problem-solving, communication and teamwork. However, the skill gap between what is expected of graduates and what they display is concerning.

The role of universities

There seems to be room for improvement when it comes to universities concentrating on the promotion of soft skills. Simply providing graduates with the technical knowledge that they require is not sufficient, if individuals are to succeed in the competitive job market and employers are to get the high calibre new recruits that they are seeking.

It’s also interesting to note that according to the research by Pearson, only 1 in 4 graduates have experience of undertaking a mock interview at university. Educational establishments have an opportunity to ensure that graduates are better prepared and have a greater understanding of how to optimise the talents that they have. These talents may have been acquired outside of the workplace, as a result of participation in sporting or other activities.

The value of internships

The belief that many graduates are not prepared for the world of work is not restricted to the UK; it’s a common thought in the US as well where there is believed to be a lack of skills such as critical thinking.

While universities can certainly be of help, on both sides of the Atlantic, internships provide a valuable opportunity for graduates to improve their preparation for the world of work. However, the quality of internships needs to be taken into account by both employers and graduates. For instance, an intern who is involved with running projects and creative problem-solving activity is likely to be more valuable than one who is simply used to help with making tea and fetching and carrying.

Expectations of employers too high

There is no doubt that a perceived lack of skills makes it difficult for some graduates to be hired. HR professionals recognise that a skills gap often exists. However, they also realise that the expectations of many company bosses are unrealistic.

Bosses may undervalue the benefits that graduates can bring to an organisation. These benefits include:

  • Proven intellectual ability
  • A desire to bring real improvement
  • A fresh approach to the work of an organisation

There is great value to be had from running a graduate recruitment programme which is aimed at finding the right people to work at the organisation by using a combination of interviewing, testing and assessment centres.  Using this combination of processes can help HR professionals and recruiters to ensure that the graduates an organisation hires are prepared for their role.

This is no doubt that there is room for improvement when it comes to graduates being prepared for the world of work. Universities have an opportunity to focus on soft skills together with technical instruction. Organisations that offer internships need to concentrate on providing a high-quality experience for interns. Company bosses also need to have realistic expectations when it comes to graduate recruitment. It’s important to recognise the positives that graduates can provide as well as any shortcomings which may exist.

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