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Northern Ireland graduates don't have required business skills, survey

By Margaret Canning

Published 13/08/2015

Northern Ireland graduates are not coming up to scratch in the workplace
Northern Ireland graduates are not coming up to scratch in the workplace

Northern Ireland graduates are not coming up to scratch in the workplace, with many lacking business acumen and communication skills, a survey has claimed.

The CBI/Pearson education and skills survey questioned around 60 businesses in the province.

While a third of businesses said they had increased graduate recruitment in the last year - more than the UK average of 25% - many were saying that the recruits' general readiness for the workplace was not satisfactory.

Just over one-third said graduates lacked self-management skills and resilience, while just under one-quarter of those surveyed said graduates lacked good communication skills.

And just under 40% said graduates were lacking in business and customer awareness.

Companies were not satisfied that graduates were lacking such attributes, and having the right attitude was important to more firms than the degree subject recruits had studied.

More businesses in Northern Ireland recognised the importance of having strong links with universities than was the case elsewhere in the UK.

Over one-third, in fact, wanted to strengthen their ties with universities in the future.

CBI/Pearson said the demand for higher-level skills was growing - and 60% of businesses said they believed demand would continue to grow in the years ahead.

Roxanne Stockwell, principal of Pearson College, London, said: "While it is excellent news that graduates are in demand country-wide, it is worrying that firms are finding that many graduates they recruit aren't properly prepared for the world of work. Universities have a responsibility to ensure that all students leave with the right attitudes and aptitudes that businesses need to succeed.

"Many universities have good links with businesses, but it's time for deeper collaboration - with courses designed in partnership with employers."

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