UKEMPLOYERS RATE SCHOOL LEAVERS OVER GRADUATES
UKEMPLOYERS RATE SCHOOL LEAVERS OVER GRADUATES
Universities fail to prepare students for work
One fifth (18 per cent) of UK employers believe school leavers make better employees than university graduates, according to new research from Adecco Group UK & Ireland [“Adecco Group”], the UK’s largest recruiter. Adecco Group is calling on educators, employers and government to identify and rectify substantial shortcomings in workplace skills as part of its & lsquo;Unlocking Britain’s Potential’ campaign.
The research highlights widespread concerns that universities are not sufficiently preparing young people for the world of work. Over half of employers (53 per cent) argue that university graduates have unrealistic expectations of working life and one in three (36 per cent) believe that the education system is failing to equip young people with the critical skills required by British businesses. Graduates agree, with nearly half (46 per cent) admitting that their degree failed to provide the right skills to enter the world of work.
According to employers, newcomers are found to be most lacking in interpersonal skills (41 per cent), and critical IT skills (41 per cent). A quarter of employers (25 per cent) even report a lack of basic literacy and numeracy skills among graduate recruits.
Younger employees are also perceived to be less conscientious than their older colleagues. When comparing 25 and 40 year olds in the workforce, very few employers believe their younger staff members possess a better attitude towards timekeeping (4 per cent), productivity (4 per cent) or teamwork (6 per cent) than their older colleagues. Younger employees are seen to be much less likely to work long hours (6 per cent), go the extra mile (9 per cent) or show loyalty to their employer (1 per cent).
On a more positive note the research has highlighted that under 25s have a strong entrepreneurial spirit (37 per cent) and are keen drivers of change (28 per cent) compared to their older counterparts, which is a quality needed in these tough economic times.
Alternatives to higher education
As employers fail to find the required skills among university graduates, many are looking at alternative ways to develop their youngest workforce in-house. Over two fifths (43 per cent) of companies now offer apprenticeships to school leavers or graduates to ensure new recruits are immersed in the organisational culture and the skills required to excel from day one.
Adecco Group’s research found that employers believe such schemes fill a critical skills gap (50 per cent) and align employees to their company’s culture (46 per cent). Deloitte, also a signed up member of the Unlocking Britain’s Potential campaign, is one of many companies traditionally associated with hiring top class graduates, and has also introduced a programme for recruiting school leavers.
Chris Moore, Managing Director of Adecco Group Solutions, comments: “Undeniably, Britain has one of the best and most advanced education systems in the world but it must deliver a talented, reliable graduate workforce that brings demonstrable value to UK plc. On a significant scale, employers believe it is failing to do that.
“Although extremely valuable, a strong academic record is no longer a sufficient prerequisite for entry into today’s working environment. Employers now hold attitude and personality (91 per cent) in greater esteem than academic or even vocational qualifications (35 per cent) when assessing new recruits. Collectively, we – the Government, businesses and educators – must work together and take full responsibility for developing skills in line with commercial needs.
“Financial acumen, communications techniques and a full appreciation of the attitude required to excel in the commercial world must now form a core part of curricula. We have to listen to employers who are telling us that our education system has to ensure soft skills are valued alongside an emphasis on academic excellence.”
Julie Mercer, Partner at Deloitte, said: “We fully support Adecco Group’s & lsquo;Unlocking Britain’s Potential Campaign’, and have been champions of employability skills being taught in the classroom for approximately 10 years now. There is a large skills gap between what students are taught and what an employer needs. To tackle this problem, Deloitte created the Employability Skills Initiative to provide specialised training to enable further education college teachers to equip young school leavers with the skills needed to secure employment. In addition, last year we launched the BrightStart programme which offers 100 positions within the firm to school leavers, giving them the opportunity to embark on a career with exceptional prospects and to gain a full professional business qualification and offers students an alternative route into employment. Like Adecco Group, we encourage educators, employers, government and other employers to offer similar employability schemes to young students so they are able to start a job with the necessary skills.”
Adecco Group is now using its Unlocking Britain’s Potential Campaign to challenge businesses, Government and educators to come together in a major debate to challenge current thinking, engage with all sectors of society, create job opportunities and boost Britons’ employability. A plan for action and full research report will be unveiled at the Unlocking Britain’s Potential Conferenceon 21st February 2012 in London.