Employers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with the calibre of graduate recruits in the UK and are starting to look abroad for new talent, according to research.
A poll of more than 100 recruiters shows that 40 per cent believe degrees have become devalued as a means of measuring employability and more than a quarter of employers are experiencing difficulties in finding quality graduates.
The findings, revealed at the conference, also show that as a result, 66 per cent of employers now look to continental Europe for more suitable candidates.
Respondents highlight a lack of appropriate skills and a decline in the quality of applications as the main reason for the drop in the number of suitable graduate candidates.
According to the survey, conducted by Park HR and The Guardian, around 44 per cent of employers think graduates don't necessarily make better employees than staff with no degree and three years work experience.
"The research shows that a university education isn't providing the skills employers want. Organisations are looking for more rounded candidates, but there's only a small number of them," said Graham Wright, strategy director at Park HR.
"If you look to Europe the system is different, and students get more work experience than UK students who are very shielded from the real world."
Only 17 per cent of the employers surveyed think graduates are better equipped for the workplace than non-graduates of the same age, while 70 per cent claim degree results are not the best measure of employability.
Helen Bostock, vice-president and head of graduate marketing at JP Morgan, told delegates at the AGR conference that Europeans have work experience built into their education, giving them more practical knowledge.
"Recruiting is no longer just UK-wide and employers are now looking across Europe. There's a disparity in the skills of UK graduates compared to their European counterparts," she said.
By Ross Wigham