The crisis of unemployable graduates

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Across the globe millions of graduates are or will soon be taking their first steps into the world of work, but a large number of them may lack the necessary skills and experience employers want.

Alistair Cox, CEO of recruitment agency Hays, says many of these graduates may be forced to take on non-graduate roles or in some cases, face unemployment.

“After years of study and expense, what a shocking waste of talent and money and dreams. Year after year however I listen to concerned clients of Hays who are worried that each fresh wave of graduates simply will not possess the skills required to excel in the modern world of work, or even get their foot in the door,” he says.

Alistair states that while employers often look for technical or vocational knowledge first, many courses are not geared toward this, causing many students to leave university or higher education without the experience.

He adds, “Around the world, many graduates simply aren’t employable in the roles being created today, yet will have spent at least three years racking up debt to study a course that will not help them find a relevant role.”

With skills shortages already prevalent across the globe, failing to address the skills of those leaving education will only exacerbate the situation. As Alistair says, “If steps are not taken to address this, then I genuinely fear for our graduates, employers and the global economy. We are already seeing the skills gap widening into a skills chasm.”

To help overcome this problem, educational institutes, employers, governments and graduates all have a part to play. Educational institutes should provide better careers advice, allowing students to consider all options before making an informed decision on their future. Moreover, there is currently too much emphasis being placed on league tables, with educational institutes focusing on targets rather than ensuring young people know what options are open to them.

Alistair adds, “Governments have been too quick to assess educational institutions on grades alone, a short-sighted approach that puts frankly unfair pressure on universities and ignores the long-term economic impact. Our political leaders should instead encourage universities to focus on providing the skills that will be vital to driving employment, businesses and our economies.”

He suggests another possible solution is to incentivise younger people into taking high-employability courses, such as those offering training in STEM-related jobs, by making the courses and institutions free or cheaper.

As for the young people themselves, it is their responsibility to focus on obtaining a skill set that is relevant to the world of work and that will benefit them. Alistair adds, “Students have a duty to themselves to ensure that neither time nor money is wasted on frivolous qualifications that mean little to employers. We need to be encouraging our young people to consider the future jobs market before choosing what to study.

This article was originally published on Hays.

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