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Less than half of employed graduates felt prepared for work, survey finds

The survey of 2,612 employed graduates reported 38% found the move from student to employee difficult. When asked about their early days of employment, 55% said they were full of uncertainty and 41% found it hard to begin work. Just 38% said working life turned out how they expected.

While the majority of graduates said they knew how to behave in the workplace (84%) and ask for help (68%), 41% were uncomfortable meeting new people and a third lacked self-confidence when presenting themselves in a work environment. One in four felt that they didn’t fit in or know how to deal with the different personalities.

The study was undertaken by Work Ready Graduates - an initiative running in universities by careers expert Prospects and Propeller Training - to better understand how prepared graduates are for work, how they cope in the early days of their jobs and what skills they would find most useful.

Graduates were given a list of skills and asked to select those that they had gained at university and what, with hindsight, they would have found most useful in preparing them for employment.

Graduates were most likely to have covered presenting, teamwork, CV and application writing at university. They were least likely to have developed skills in assertiveness, commercial awareness, negotiation, business etiquette, and business and influential communication. 

Skills graduates said would have been most useful were job interview preparation, assertiveness, negotiation, business and influential communication, and business etiquette - respectively. 

Kyle Burrows, co-Founder at Work Ready Graduates said: 

“This study shows that while graduates have honed their CV writing and teamwork skills at university, they are less likely to be prepared for the realities of working life. It’s important that graduates understand what is expected of them from day one and how they can be the best they can be. We need to build and complement the good work of careers services to develop professionals who have the knowledge and self-confidence to make their first steps on the career ladder a comfortable and happy experience.”  

Work Ready Graduates’ courses and seminars are running in universities across the UK. They have been developed with employers and are designed to enhance what graduates learn at university

Claire Ashton, Work Ready Graduates’ Board Member and Senior Associate Director for the Attraction team at Teach First said:

“Leaving the comforts of university to enter the world of work for the first time can be a daunting prospect. It’s important that graduates feel well equipped to cope with the journey ahead, both professionally and personally. We support initiatives like Work Ready Graduates who are working hard to support graduates in their transition from student to employee.”  

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