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Graduates – are you ‘workplace ready’?

You may have the qualifications required for your dream career in digital, IT or tech, but do you have the right skills?

A new survey has found that according to UK businesses, nearly a fifth of graduates aren’t ready for the world of work. Respondents said that many graduates lacked crucial ‘soft’ skills such as leadership, negotiation, strategy and planning.

The research carried out by Pearson Business School involved asking around 530 HR managers across a range of industries about their experiences with hiring graduates. Around 48% said that recent graduates lacked leadership skills, while 44% complained about a lack of negotiation skills – essential for a range of roles. Around 38% thought that graduates did not have the required experience or skill in strategy, planning and project management.

So-called soft skills are increasingly in demand, especially in the digital and tech sector. For example, a recent survey found that a huge 75% of businesses undergoing digital transformation believed soft skills such as communication were essential.

Graduates unprepared for the recruitment process

As well as speaking to employers, researchers from the Pearson Business School also asked graduates about their experiences of finding their first job. Of over 1,000 graduates surveyed, around 18% said that they felt that university had not fully equipped them for the world of work.

Many also felt unprepared to handle interviews and other parts of the recruitment process. Just under a quarter had experience of practicing mock interviews while still at university, and only 37% had spoken to a career adviser.

How can graduates become workplace ready?

The good news for undergraduates is that many universities are putting employability and the teaching of soft skills high on their list of priorities. Dan Hawes from the Graduate Recruitment Bureau told People Management:

“The message is getting through to university students who increasingly view the start of their career as the minute they set foot on campus,”

Undergraduates may also have the chance to work on industry-linked projects and placements while still studying. These opportunities can prove valuable when it comes to improving skills such as communication, leadership and teamworking.

For graduate job seekers struggling to get their foot on the ladder, training, volunteering and apprenticeships are all excellent ways to improve on the soft skills employers are looking for.

It’s also important for graduates to emphasise these valuable skills when applying for jobs. Many applicants focus solely on technical skills and qualifications. However, it can sometimes be just as important to demonstrate other core skills. For example, that you’re a strong communicator, a team player, have a positive attitude and have experience of leadership.

Even if you don’t have workplace experience of these skills, you can still use examples from your university career – such as teamworking on university projects, public speaking during presentations and leading on group work.

If you’re a graduate searching for a new opportunity in IT, digital, tech, financial, commercial or engineering, SOLOS Consultants can help.

Our specialists not only find the perfect roles for your skill set, but can also provide valuable career support and advice – on everything from interview skills to training and development. Get in touch with the SOLOS team to find out more. 


photo courtesy of hywards @

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