Wednesday 13 December 2017

Employers say graduates can't write well enough

John Walshe Education Editor

HALF of the country's top employers believe Irish graduates have poor writing and communication skills.

The worrying statistic was revealed last night as a separate new survey showed that students were very pessimistic about their future.

The jobs market is now so tough that, for the first time, the same amount of graduates are staying in education to obtain further qualifications or training as are going directly into employment.

The survey of 5,600 students by the Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS) shows that almost two-thirds (62.4pc) are worried about their future careers.

The days when graduates were confident of walking into a job are well and truly over, as 82.2pc agree it will be tough to get a job this year. Some 58pc said they would relocate overseas if they received an attractive job offer.

Three-quarters (76pc) felt their skills included working as part of a team and 69pc felt they had problem-solving skills. But only 43pc said they could manage their own learning, while only 40pc felt they had good communication and presentation skills.

And these figures were confirmed by a separate study conducted by gradireland which showed employers were becoming increasingly concerned about communication skills among recent graduates.

Just over half of employers (52pc) said writing skills were a source of concern, up from 43pc in a similar study last year.

The percentage of employers who reported a lack of communication skills among new graduates was slightly higher at 55.4pc, up 2pc on last year.

A third of employers surveyed (32.2pc) highlighted an inability to work independently as a source of concern.

Other employers observed that graduates often had poor time-management skills.

Caroline Kennedy, spokeswoman for the AHECS, said there was often a major gap between the academic qualification and the ability of the graduate to maximise their potential, but added that: "Graduate internships have become increasingly popular and, in a recessionary graduate job market, some are opting to undertake unpaid internships.

"For new graduates, these internships can be an opportunity to develop employability skills and gain a foothold into the world of work.

Opportunities

"But a graduate placement programme should not be seen as a means for existing large graduate employers to subsidise their graduate payroll. Rather, the emphasis should be on identifying new employment opportunities in sectors not normally involved in graduate recruitment."

The small and medium enterprises (SME) sector was a case in point, she said.

This sector is responsible for 53pc of all employment in Ireland but has traditionally had a low participation in graduate recruitment. Many of the 230,000 Irish SMEs could benefit hugely from graduate expertise in areas such as incubation, entrepreneurship, marketing, operations and R&D.

Irish Independent

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