Graduates: Are they really ready for the workforce?

Employer advice

A new report from CBI and education publisher Pearson has revealed that 1 in 3 companies are unhappy about graduates attitudes to work and their self-management and resilience. 41% of businesses have had to organise remedial training for school or college leavers and one in four businesses have had to do this for some graduates in the last 12 months.

It always takes some time for a new recruit to learn the ropes and become productive; but it's hard to build in extra training costs too, especially when they're not anticipated. For school and college leavers, the skill most in need of improvement is numeracy (26%) which wouldn't necessarily come up at interview stage; but may still be a part of anyone's day to day duties. One of the reasons this isn't flagged at interview process is that the biggest focus for employers when recruiting graduates isn't their hard skill set, it's attitude and aptitude that enables graduates to be effective in the workplace. Whilst attitude can demonstrate which candidates would be willing to put in the work to get themselves up to scratch, any hard skills essential to an employee like numeracy could be tested from the first interview stages.

The Education and Skills survey also revealed that 75% of businesses expect to increase the number of high-skilled roles in the coming years, but 61% are fearful that there will be a lack of sufficiently skilled people to fill them. Nearly two thirds of businesses see the skills gap as a threat to the UK's competitiveness, as bigger skills shortages begin to impact productivity. Businesses are investing heavily in skills (over £45bn a year) to try and up skill their existing workforce, and with all this investment, having a successful retention programme for your staff is becoming more and more essential.

One of the reasons suggested for the lack of necessary skills in graduates and school leavers was that the careers advice given to young people was judged as overwhelmingly poor with 84% of companies saying the quality and consistency of careers advice isn't good enough. The Careers and Enterprise Company (CEC) is known only to 21% of firms, despite 75% of firms saying they would be willing to play a greater role by delivering careers advice directly to schools.

Another further looming issue is the new GCSE and A Level marking matrix, which leaves behind the traditional A*-E grading system and replaces it with levels 9-1, 9 being the highest and 1 being the lowest. Until the new matrix is fully understood by hiring managers, it will be difficult to assess a candidate's achievements by their grades.

With such a big gap between what companies are expecting from their graduates and what the candidates are capable of, what can be done to make the transition into the workforce easier for both parties?

On-boarding processes

If you're going to hire your staff for attitude as the CBI and Pearson report suggests employers tend to, then it's important to be realistic about the help and assistance they'll need in the first few months of employment to become fully productive. Make sure that your staff have immediate access to any training courses that they need to get their skills up to scratch, and that you monitor their progression closely for their probation period.

Retain, retain, retain

Once you've spent your time and money recruiting and training your new employees, you'll want to make sure that they stay with you, and don't get poached by your competitors with promises of a better package. Having a retention programme in place that delivers a reward and recognition programme, as well as making sure that each employee has a clear career progression plan will keep your staff motivated and loyal.

Deloitte have predicted that by 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce. To learn more about how to attract millennials into your organisation and close your skills gap, download our Millennial attraction guide today.