Remarkable. Three years after graduation, 28% of the class of 2006 were not in full-time employment. Of those that were, only 23% were earning over £20,000. I’m confident that 2009’s graduates aren’t fairing any better. We know too well that conditions are difficult.
But when 27% of companies can’t find graduates with the qualities and skills they’re looking for, a struggling economy doesn’t necessarily deserve all the blame. Students need to know how to sell themselves, and it’s our industry that may need to teach them how.
Humanities grads have the biggest challenge, easily over-represented at job centres or in menial jobs. And no wonder; they’ve never been taught how to sell the skills they’ve developed throughout their academic experience. It becomes too easy to brush them and their CVs aside. After all, the client is looking for an analyst – not an art critic.
Recruiters aren’t career councillors. But a quality recruiter identifies talent by moving the focus from what the candidate ‘does’, to what the candidate is capable of doing.
Most of these grads have been taught how to learn, communicate, creatively analyse problems, and reach reasoned conclusions. While they may not know the context or language of, say, the business world, they can be intelligent and flexible enough to quickly pick things up. Perhaps they’ve also been active in their universities’ extra-curricular scenes honing their workplace skills.
No doubt, our country’s education system needs a shakeup, but that’s not happening anytime soon. Let’s be daring and work with what we have – it takes investment, but the rewards are waiting.