One-fifth of graduates are unprepared for the workplace when they leave university, HR managers feel, and many lack crucial skills including leadership, negotiation and planning.
Just 13% of graduates were seen by HR as “ready to hit the ground running” when they entered the workplace, according to Pearson Business School research, while two-thirds were seen as “somewhat ready” to work.
The key skills HR professionals believed the graduate workforce was lacking included leadership (cited by 48% of HR managers), negotiation (44%) and strategy and planning (38%). However, they were seen as well-equipped with teamwork skills (cited by 76% of HR professionals), problem solving (76%), communication skills (75%) and research abilities (75%).
Graduates themselves also believed their time at university had not prepared them for work (18% of graduates). More than a third (34%) felt they were missing leadership skills, 25% lacked negotiation skills and 23% did not possess the technical skills needed.
The results showed that higher education institutions needed to collaborate with businesses to ensure that graduates are equipped with the skills that will maximise their employability, said Roxanne Stockwell, principal of Pearson College London.
“These results show that employers are increasingly looking for applicants who have developed employability skills and have gained experience whilst studying for their degree. There have been great gains in recent years in integrating higher education with industry, but clearly there is still more to be done.
“In a competitive graduate marketplace, firms are increasingly looking for applicants who have real world experience of the workplace. Higher education institutions need to do more to give students the chance to gain the workplace experience that is vital in today’s job market through building strong links with local businesses and leaders in the industry.”
The survey also revealed that new graduates felt underprepared for the recruitment process once they left university. Just a quarter undertook a mock interview while studying, while only 37% had spoken to a career adviser.
Sixty-one per cent of HR managers said relevant work experience was more important than the grades achieved by graduates. Three-quarters had undertaken work experience while at university.
The survey of 1,012 graduates and 531 senior HR professionals was undertaken by Survation in November.