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The University and the Employer: Bridging the Gap

Despite reports that the number of graduate jobs has increased, and is set to continue to rise in the coming years as companies invest in new talent, there have also been a number of stories and survey results over the past few years about how, for one reason or another, graduate positions are not being filled.

There is still a skills gap between what employers are looking for when investing in graduate recruitment, and what universities are delivering in their graduates – it’s well known that this issue is most prominent in STEM industries, but they’re not the only ones failing to utilise the student talent in the UK.

In this blog, we’re asking what challenges employers face when it comes to graduate recruitment, and how bridging the gap between universities and employers can have a positive impact on getting students ready for the workplace.

The Problem with Graduate Recruitment

It’s clear that although the graduate job market is recovering from the recession, employers are still facing difficulty when it comes to filling those positions.

A study by McKinsey and Company a couple of years ago, although only using participants from the USA, also shows damning evidence of the persistent skills gap, and lack of synchronicity between education providers and students. This 2013 article states that ‘barely 50% of the youth today believe their education actually increases their chance at getting a job. They just don’t see the classroom as a relevant place to ‘get ready’’.

According to this article from last year, focusing on the STEM skills gap, around one in five employers are struggling to recruit ‘due to candidates lacking the necessary practical skills and experience’.

Quality of applications has also been cited as a reason for the gap that students face between education and employment.

This article from CIPD in January 2015 reports on the AGR survey from that year, which found that almost half of graduate employees had one or more vacancies that went unfulfilled last year, despite an average of 74.5 applications being received for each post.

Stephen Isherwood, AGR chief executive explained the reasoning behind the results; he said that ‘Many of the applications could almost be called spam, meaning employers have to just dismiss a lot of them because they’re highly speculative with no thought.

“Most employers will say there is not an issue with the number of applications in any sector. It’s the quality.”

It’s clear that whether it’s at CV or interview stage, employers are not seeing what they need in graduates.

The Solution

We believe the key to minimising the graduate skills gap is to improve communication between employers and higher education providers. As the majority of big graduate employers tend to work in the private sector, with universities working in the public or state sector, there seems to be a divide between these two kinds of institutions which is impacting the graduate transition to the workplace.

Collaboration between universities and employers should be top of the agenda for both parties, as it will not only improve student perception of education and success rates for universities, but will see businesses and industries able to grow and expand by securing a pipeline of top talent.

One example of this in action is the Science Industry Partnership, or SIP. This partnership is an employer-led response to the employability skills gap, and sees companies developing educational programmes that are designed to give students the practical skills and knowledge that employers in STEM are actually looking for – because those are the people who created it. Giving employers the chance to develop their talent pipeline and ensure recruitment for vacancies, as well as getting them to become more engaged in the education process for their sector, SIP is partnered with a number of prestigious universities across the UK.

At Gradvert, we work with employers, universities, and graduates, and can see the opportunities for improved collaboration between all three to help make graduate recruitment the best it can be. To find out more, email us on today.

References: between-education- and-employment/ of-graduate- employers-still- can-t- fill-vacancies- finds-agr.aspx

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