The graduate employment market is fiercer than ever, and we could all do more to help.
No student wants to think about it, but the truth is, eventually they’ll graduate and inevitably have to venture into the scary ‘read world’. Universities spend millions to prepare them, but the support shouldn’t end there. Educational institutions could do so much more to help their students prepare for life after University, and it’s actually not as hard as you’d think.
Why support is so important
As we know, getting a job after graduation isn’t just about having a good degree. The hard truth is, there’s that many graduates out there know that it really isn’t as special as it was, say, 20 years ago. In fact its pretty much standard. More competition means a tougher market. And that means graduates need to stand out.
So what can they do? 93% of employers want employees with good social skills; 73% of employers look for graduates with strong communication skills and 62% of employers value applicants with leadership qualities.
So what do they do? They tell employers what they want to hear. Who hasn’t written “excellent communicator who works well within a team” on their CV? The problem is, everyone has. And, even more pressingly, the majority of them can’t prove it. So graduates are back where they started, running firmly inside the herd.
This is where the University comes in. If employers value team players who don’t fumble over their words and know how to be polite then surely students should be learning soft skills, how to communicate effectively and with large numbers of people. But these are the things that they can’t learn from a book. It takes experience, practice and time to learn how to behave in a professional setting (and then to prove you can do it) and, in this, many institutions are failing their students.
That’s not to say that systems don’t exist to try and give a helping hand, but all the careers advice in the world isn’t going to help if students are just not interested. If they aren’t turning up to your CV seminars and interview workshops, you aren’t able to help them.
So what can be done?
At Tyfy, we use peer mentoring to provide students with a quick and easy way to prove they have all of those desired qualities and more. Mentoring a younger student doesn’t just show academic aptitude in a given field, it shows the leadership, communication and social skills that employers so earnestly seek. Our system means that mentors can build up a portfolio of reviews that prove their capability and make them more employable, and the best part is they can do it all from their phones. A busy third year doesn’t have the time to meet with a younger student but they do have the time to answer a quick question over message- building their CV in their spare time.
Most importantly, we don’t aim to replace the systems already in place, but to make them easier. If a student approaches their careers adviser with a portfolio of reviews proving they possess skills attractive to employers, it makes it that much easier to point them in the right direction. Similarly, if a student has honed those communication skills in their spare time, the careers department doesn’t need to spend as much time training them. The most important part though, is this: the student who has engaged with Tyfy and peer mentoring is more likely to walk into the careers office in the first place.
The graduate employment market is fiercer than ever, and those venturing into it deserve a helping hand.