What university students think employers want and what their future bosses actually want are different things, a new survey has revealed.

The QS Global Employer Survey 2018 surveyed more than 11,000 employers around the world and their answers were compared to responses from 16,000 prospective students.

“Students do not fully understand how employers value skills,” the report states.

“For example, students relatively overvalue the importance of creativity and leadership skills, and undervalue the importance of flexibility/adaptability and teamwork.”

QS chief executive officer Nunzio Quacquarelli said the development of soft skills, such as team-playing and resilience, had become almost as important as that technical skills and knowledge acquired during a degree.

He said it was becoming more vital that universities prepared graduates for the world of work and this included the development of these skills.

“Opportunities for internships, study abroad, extra-curricular activity and active learning can all contribute to the development of these and other skills universities want,” he said.

Annette Cairnduff, the general manager of research, evaluation and partnerships at the Foundation for Young Australians, said the results aligned with its own report, The New Work Reality, which found young people believed the key reason they couldn’t get a full-time job was because they didn’t have the skills employers were looking for.

She said workers with so-called “soft skills”, or what she prefers to call “enterprise skills” such as problem solving, communication, teamwork and digital literacy, were in demand.

“Employers are already willing to pay more for young people who have these skills,” she told news.com.au.

“They are hard skills to learn but they are the most portable of skills; they are skills you can take from one job to another.”

While these skills are not going to replace the need for technical knowledge, as automation continues to change the working landscape, skills of a “higher order” will become more important.

Cairnduff believes industry must play a part in the development of these skills alongside educational institutions.

“It’s a joint responsibility and always has been,” she said.

“The future workforce is going to have to learn on the job more than they do now.”

She said automation meant entry level jobs young people used to do were now disappearing and people also stayed in education for longer. The opportunities to engage in real work and to get work experience were harder to find.

Businesses can help young people through internships or other programs, but students could also develop skills by working through workplace problems while at university or vocational education.

“It doesn’t have to be the traditional apprenticeship type of approach,” she said.

“The workforce has changed but the way we are preparing young people hasn’t.”

The skills employers ranked as the most important for graduates

  1. Problem solving
  2. Teamwork
  3. Communication
  4. Adaptability
  5. Data analysis
  6. Resilience
  7. Organisation
  8. Technical skills
  9. Creativity
  10. Leadership
  11. Language
  12. Commercial awareness

The skills students thought were the most important

  1. Creativity
  2. Organisation
  3. Problem solving
  4. Leadership
  5. Teamwork
  6. Communication
  7. Resilience
  8. Commercial awareness
  9. Adaptability
  10. Technical skills
  11. Language
  12. Data analysis

Source: Yudu


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