Students want universities to provide employability skills

Universities need to do more to prepare students for life as a graduate, it was reported today.

According to a survey conducted by the CBI and National Union of Students, more than half of students want their university to provide more help for them to understand employability skills.

The survey of 2,614 students showed that 57% want universities to better explain employability skills, including customer awareness, team working and self management. A further 66% would like to be provided with support from their university in developing these skills.

These findings follow last week’s publication of the 2011 CBI / EDI Education & Skills Survey which showed that 82% of businesses single out employability skills as the most important consideration when hiring graduates.  The survey found that 70% of employers believe that students need to do more to prepare themselves for the workplace and make the most of what is available to them at university through societies, internships and volunteering.

With the forthcoming rise in tuition fees the pressure will be on institutions to show how their course can help students achieve a return on their investment by securing graduate jobs. The CBI wants all universities to embed the teaching of employability skills into course structures.

Susan Anderson, CBI Director for Education & Skills, said “Employability skills are the most important attributes that businesses look for in new recruits but graduates are currently falling short of employers’ expectations.

“Competition for jobs is intense and graduate unemployment remains high, so students need to proactively develop relevant employability skills. But at the same time all universities need to explain these skills better and make sure they embed them in teaching.”

Another means to improve your job opportunities post-university is to undertake a graduate internship. This will provide valuable work experience and employability skills, boosting job prospects and industry contacts to enrich your CV.