This article is more than 1 year old

Exploring the changing expectations of employability

Handshake's Clare Adams shares research findings that indicate students need support in understanding the graduate job market and presenting their skills in an impactful way
This article is more than 1 year old

Clare Adams is Director of Research and Insights at Handshake

You’ll have undoubtedly seen the news that the Office for Students (OfS) has recently published new regulations which may see universities face fines of up to £500,000 if they’re not meeting the minimum requirements for student outcomes.

But, even before the introduction of these rules we have seen a significant increase in interest around employability, driven by students, unions and education providers alike.

Over the last few years, a challenging labour market has added a new dimension to this conversation. Add to this the changing expectations of students, and it’s clear it’s a timely juncture to look at how technology can amplify the work of careers professionals within universities

Careers confidence and the need for collaboration

Confidence in skills attribution and articulation is a major barrier to employment outcomes. Indeed, a recent Handshake study found that 32 per cent of students worry they’re not good enough or not ready for a graduate job.

The same study found that career confidence diminishes as studies progress – with only 17 percent of third year students saying they felt very confident about their future career prospects.

Another important obstacle to employability is not knowing what field to go into – 27 percent of today’s students aren’t sure. And on the other side of the fence, 54 percent of employers said they’re struggling to find the right candidate – suggesting that there is room for academic institutions and employers to work more closely together.

To solve these pressing issues, we believe that careers professionals and the technology industry need to ask:

  • How might we support students to understand what field might be right or suitable for them?
  • How can we support students to understand their unique value as they transition from education to employment?
  • How can we support students to showcase their unique value to employers?
  • How might we collectively support diverse candidates with the skills they need now, and in the future?
  • How can the tech industry support careers professionals to engage their students, early, and successfully?

Importantly, our research confirms that collaboration and co-design between employers, careers services, students and educators (underpinned by personalisation of careers provision, enabled by technology to be delivered at scale) will be key to future success.

Shaping the future of skills articulation

But what does a technology solution that supports students and careers professionals in articulating and building up skills prior to graduation look like? Any tools must be built upon an understanding that every student has a unique story, meaning they need to be inclusive, personalised, solutions, which can be deployed at scale.

We believe that it’s essential to move beyond static CVs which lack the context and ease of accessibility employers need – instead helping students understand and demonstrate the stories behind their skills. The technology sector should enable students to reflect on their experiences and the skills they gained, and add new ones as they go.

Join Handshake at their Careers Leadership Summit, Thursday 8th December, 12:30pm at the IET London, Savoy Place

One response to “Exploring the changing expectations of employability

  1. I think as part of this universities should work with employers to look at recruitment processes, reflecting on whether they’re getting the best out of candidates, or whether they favour those who can perform well in interviews.

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