Students seek workplace education 

Students want universities to better explain how to develop important workplace competencies, according to a survey.

The study of 2,614 students by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the National Union of Students shows that more than half (57 per cent) want universities to do more to help them understand employability skills, such as customer awareness, team working and self management.

Employability skills are the single most important consideration for 82 per cent of businesses when recruiting graduates. However, according to a separate study, 70 per cent of employers say that university students need to do more to prepare themselves to be effective in the workplace.

Some universities already embed the teaching of employability skills into course structures, but the CBI is calling on all institutions to follow this best practice.

CBI Director for Education & Skills Susan Anderson says, ‘Employability skills are the most important attributes that businesses look for in new recruits, but graduates are currently falling short of employers’ expectations.

‘Competition for jobs is intense and graduate unemployment remains high, so students need to proactively develop relevant employability skills. But at the same time all universities need to explain these skills better and make sure they embed them in teaching.’

NUS national president Aaron Porter says, ‘Access to higher education opens the doors to a world of possibility but it is incumbent on universities to do more to work with both student unions and employers to equip their students to face the challenges the future brings.

‘It is crucial that universities and employers work with students to provide proper signposting to ensure they are in a position to make informed decisions and to develop and realise their goals. A greater understanding of employability will enable today’s students to develop themselves, make a contribution and fulfil their potential tomorrow.’

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