Research shows naive university-leavers lack workplace survival skills

Talent Q, a people assessment company that helps employers recruit and manage talent, has revealed that many graduates entering the workplace are poor communicators and less resilient than their more established colleagues.

The company’s research also showed that graduate entrants to the workplace are particularly anxious and many suffer from a debilitating shortage of confidence. 

Of great concern to employers is that graduates, who suffer a real ‘blind-spot’ about their lack of workplace survival skills, have at the same time unrealistically high expectations of their new role and employer.  Having exposed the scale of the problem, the research findings will be important in guiding employers’ improvement to their graduate selection criteria and training programmes.

The research, including over 5,000 people, showed that when graduates were compared with the workforce as a whole, they fall down hardest in the following areas:



  • Resilience, for example in handling criticism and set backs

  • Confidence, in group situations and with senior managers

  • Communicating with colleagues, suppliers and customers

  • The power to persuade and ability to influence decisions

  • Taking things in their stride and being calm and relaxed.

Alan Bourne, Talent Q director, said:  “Our research illustrates that universities could be doing a lot more to help graduates prepare for the world of work.  They enter the workplace with high expectations of their employer, but bring very few of the most essential soft skills.

”It is absolutely vital that employers understand how far from the finished article their new graduate recruits are, and that they put in place appropriate training to plug the gap as soon as possible after they start in a job.

“As well as assisting employers, this research may help inform universities and their careers services, pinpointing where more development of graduate applicants is required.  It’s obvious that the most successful graduates in the workplace will be those that can combine academic intelligence with more rounded personal qualities.”

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