Do Universities Need To Teach Basic Job Skills?

Do Universities Need To Teach Basic Job Skills?

An announcement by Edge, the education charity, caught my eye this week. It said that universities should now be required to teach employment skills as part of degree courses. According to its latest study, employers now believe too many graduates are unfit for the workplace.

The study found that one in six employers are dissatisfied with graduates and that universities need to teach communication, problem solving, presentation skills, punctuality and customer relations to get students ready for full-time employment. The issue of punctuality was particularly poignant to me, as I have recently conducted a number of interviews where none of the candidates (who were all pretty much graduates) arrived on time.

The employability of graduates has been a talking point for a while now - employers are getting increasingly disillusioned with grads, who come to them as well educated individuals, but who don't seemingly have the skills relevant to the positions they are applying for. 

On the flip side, students preparing to fork out thousands of pounds in education want be to sure they will get a job out of it, and they’re demanding that their courses give them the skills to get the jobs they want.

For us the main priority has always been to provide our students, regardless of their academic background, with the skills and knowledge to help them get a job at the end of the course. It was this that led to us setting up our recruitment service; placing our newly trained escapees in the jobs that suited them. And we don't stop there, we also give them guidance and advice and how to conduct themselves in an interview.

What do you think? Are universities responsible for making sure grads have the right skills to be employed? What form should these ‘employment skills’ take?

2 Comments Isabelle Duarte

Posted by
Isabelle Duarte
Fri 10 Jun 2011: 4:03pm

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  • Alex:

    I think they do. As an educator I come across too many kids who cannot grasp the basic rudiments of spoken language let alone "sell themselves" in a job interview/ presentation scenario.
    The problem is, a lot of students simply think that these 'soft skills' are beneath them, and that they are ultimately a waste of time.
    They'll only really understand their importance after job rejection number 100.

  • Matt Cox:

    I don't think so. I enroll on an animation or a VFX course because I want to learn animation and VFX.

    A lot of people on my course at uni, including myself were mature students who had been working for years before. It would be patronizing to give them lessons on how to be good employees or lessons on basic jobs skills.

    We had some training (guidance on interviews...etc), but generally it was disliked by students who knew it all already.

    I think the educators position should be to train people in VFX, animation or whatever the central skill of the course is. If it's classroom based, then there should be adequate group work, allowing the student to get used to working with others. There should be however, a support system for guidance if the student requires it.

    As for punctuality, I'm surprised by what you say. Why would someone be late for an interview of all things? I don't understand how someone can land their dream job in the industry (where there are hundreds of people willing to take their place) and then fail to deliver on the basics (things that really shouldn't need training). It's crazy.


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