“Encourage graduates to look past their home city. When many graduates think about a job they think ‘graduate scheme’ and they think London. However this is often not the most suitable path for them and certainly not the only option.”


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A lot changed in the graduate job market from when I started university and graduated in 2009. As eager freshers my class mates and I had yet to hear the words “credit crunch” and were naïve to the effects that a recession would have on our career options. We were starting university in a time when it was still accepted and expected that a good degree from a good university would equate to a job after three or four years. Furthermore, gap years were for fun and work-experience was for spending money.

My classmates and I may have been naïve but we were going on readily accepted rhetoric from parents and peers, therefore graduating as the credit-crunch took hold a lot of us (myself included) were pitifully underprepared for what the big bad business world was about to throw at us. Today’s graduates still face the same challenges but hopefully the tools are now emerging that will allow them to prepare for the business world with a suitable skill set, relevant work experience and a good idea of how to find the right employer for them.

From my experience in the graduate job market and working with graduates/graduate employers I would make the following suggestions for how universities and businesses can “build” graduates fit for the 2014 workplace:

Universities

Careers services: get out of the careers centre and onto campus. Many students remain un-aware of how much their careers centre can do for them. Go to the freshers’ fair, hold talks in the unions, speak at the start of lectures and you will get your message across to the students who need to hear it most – the ones who don’t even know where the careers centre is!

Be more pro-active with getting students to build their personal brand: I am a big proponent of the personal brand and standing out from the crowd, this goes back to not relying on your degree alone to secure you your first job. “ Branding” is something that all gen Y’ers understand so let them know that having a strong personal brand will make them and their CV stand out. Encourage students to take an active role in a society – not just the beer appreciation one maybe the model UN or one that fits with their career plans.

Build better links with local businesses and let your students know about it: Something that can benefit both business and universities/graduates is understanding each other’s needs. Universities are an incredibly important conduit for this skills conversation and should facilitate discussions between students and businesses.

Encourage students/graduates to look past their home city and/or London: When many graduates think about a job they think graduate scheme and they think London. However this is often not the most suitable path for them and certainly not the only option. Encourage graduates to look for appropriate SMEs or larger companies that are based elsewhere in the country or even the world. Your New Crew is all about helping graduates to relocate and build their own real social network so I am well aware of how nerve-racking it can be to take a chance on a new city but often it is the best thing a graduate can do for their career – think outside of the box!

Businesses

Contact and work with your local university. Discuss your business’s needs, what you need from new employees and skills gaps that you have identified. Meet with interested current students and discuss your business/their interests and views of your market, it should be mutually beneficial.

Offer quality work experience to deserving candidates…and pay them: The credit crunch bred the phenomenon of the unpaid internship which arguably provides value for neither you nor your “intern”. Work with your local university to put together a work experience project relevant to both their students’ skills and your business needs. Doing this helps your business take advantage of the latest teaching in a specific field and also helps “design” graduates who understand what working within a business is all about.

Understand Generation Y/The Millennials: Technology and society have had a huge effect on what Generation Y expect from work and also how they set about work/projects in general. Speaking to your local university about their observations of students’ work ethos or working together to survey students could leave you with a fascinating and valuable insight into your future workforce.

Gemma Pirnie is the founder of Your New Crew, a relocation service for graduates and young professionals. Your New Crew also offers employers a solution for their graduate retention needs. A white paper on the links between location, work-life balance and graduate recruitment/retention is available at yournewcrew.com/employers Gemma is passionate about achieving a fair deal for graduates and also making sure that graduates have the appropriate skills for the workplace.

Click here for more information about Your New Crew.

One of the NCUB’s initiatives include Global Graduates, which brings together a group of senior leaders from higher education and business to build on the Global Graduates into Global Leaders research undertaken by the Council for Industry and Higher Education (Now NCUB), the Association of Graduate Recruiters, and research agency CFE in 2011. NCUB are currently working on the next stage of the Global Graduates programme. This involves working with universities and businesses to develop ways in which the skills needed for global employability can be embedded into students’ learning experience, and how businesses can seek to attract global talent.

For more information about our Global Graduates project, click here.

Do you have any further suggestions to add for universities, businesses or both? Comment below or join the debate on Twitter @NCUBtweets.