Universities’ key role in preparing students for business outlined by CBI

Universities must play a key role in giving students the skills that make them suitable for the workforce, the CBI has warned.

Cambridge University vice-chancellor Alison Richard last week said the institution was not there to be “handmaidens of industry or implementers of the skills agenda”.

But Lizzi Holman, skills and education policy adviser at the CBI, told Personnel Today that organisations were crying out for recruits with broad technology, engineering and physics skills. She said graduates going into these sectors needed a wide knowledge of each discipline.

“The relationship business has with universities is a complex one, but businesses are a major employer of graduates, so it’s important graduates do degrees that are used by business,” she said.

She added that many universities worked well with employers to design courses that equipped graduates with the right skills.

The government last week announced that 45 universities are to sponsor Academy secondary schools, to widen participation in deprived areas.

Holman backed the move, saying it would give young people much-needed information to choose a suitable career path.

In October, the government is due to publish results from a consultation with higher education providers and business on how to arm graduates with the skills demanded by employers. Higher education minister Bill Rammell said: “Every university, college and employer should be thinking hard about how it can respond to this important challenge.”

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