Large numbers of students are leaving university lacking the basic skills needed to get by in the workplace, according to new research.
By Graeme Paton, Education Editor Daily Telegraph
12 Sep 2013
More than half of employers said all or almost all graduate recruits started work without vital attributes, such as team work, communication, punctuality and the ability to cope under pressure.
A poll of company leaders found that just under one in five businesses believe graduates are “work ready”.
The conclusions will add to concerns that schools, colleges and universities are too focused on ensuring that young people pass exams at the expense of equipping them with life skills.
Experts also warned that it raised questions over the extent to which universities are spending tuition fee income on programmes designed to get students ready for work, particularly with the cost of a degree rising to £9,000 a year in England.
The YouGov research was based on a survey of 635 employers, including 419 directly responsible for recruiting graduates. In all, 52 per cent of graduate employers said none or few graduate recruits were work-ready when they joined, with 17 per cent claiming none of them were fit for the job.
Just 19 per cent of business leaders said all or most graduate recruits were work-ready.
The survey also found that just 17 per cent of employers focused on graduates’ university degree classification when hiring new recruits. Only eight per cent based decisions on the university they attended.
The conclusions follow the publication of figures earlier this year showing that almost one in 10 students – 26,000 – were left without a job or a further education course after finishing at university last summer.
Data showed that the unemployment rate jumped much higher at some universities, with 22.6 per cent of graduates without a job after leaving London South Bank university.
The proportion reached 20.6 per cent at East London university and 18.9 per cent at Bolton. The latest research was commissioned by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide to mark the publication of its latest edition later this month.
Alastair McCall, one of the guide’s editors, 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.
“The YouGov survey 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.”