Earlier this week the Telegraph reported on a new initiative, ‘Work Ready Graduates’, which has been launched to help prepared graduates for the world of employment. Supported by Teach First, the initiative will be rolled out at universities across the UK by graduate careers website, Prospects, and commercial training specialist, Propeller Training, with courses and seminars focusing on areas such as commercial awareness and influential communication. It has risen from claims that nine-in-ten graduate employers are finding vacancies hard to fill, due in part to a perceived lack of graduate work-readiness. The full article, including further details of the programme, can be found here.
This is no doubt a great development to help bridge the gap between graduates and employment and I look forward to hearing more details about the programme over time and its success rates. However, it has got me wondering how realistic it really is to expect our graduates to have these skills in any real abundance by the time they graduate? In my experience of working with this client group, graduates are more work-ready than ever before, so could it actually be a case of rising expectations on the part of the employers?
At the heart of this debate, I believe, lies our growing internship culture – the place in which many graduates find the opportunity to acquire these work skills. The pressure that exists now for graduates to have gained several quality internships through the duration of their degree studies is certainly something that didn’t exist (at least not to anywhere near this extent) when I graduated back in the 1990s. And yet graduates from ‘my’ era have not been considered, as a whole, unsuitable to the world of professional work. We’ve largely all survived and progressed. But are internships now providing graduate employers with the excuse to default on their own responsibilities? Did it not used to be the function of their own graduate training schemes to fine tune these skills? And, where does this leave the thousands of graduates who have been unable to secure places on competitive internships? (Hopefully, this is where the ‘Work Ready Graduates’ programme can step in).