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Businesses say careers advice leaves young unprepared for work

Published 05/08/2016

Bosses find many graduates are not prepared properly for the world of work, a survey concluded
Bosses find many graduates are not prepared properly for the world of work, a survey concluded

Businesses have attacked the quality of careers advice for young people in Northern Ireland, saying it leaves the youngsters unprepared for the world of work.

They highlighted problems such as shortcomings in self-management and resilience, work experience and business and customer awareness.

A total of 234 firms in the country took park in a UK-wide survey by Pearson College London.

Of the businesses surveyed, 93% would be willing to play a greater role in supporting schools and colleges in improving careers advice.

Many businesses reported worrying weaknesses in graduates' general readiness for employment.

The study said 37% reported shortcomings in self-management and resilience, 40% reported a lack of relevant work experience, and 50% were not satisfied with graduates' levels of business and customer awareness.

Businesses in Northern Ireland overwhelmingly (94%) believed the quality of careers advice young people received was not good enough to help them make informed decisions about future career options.

They looked foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace.

More than over eight in 10 employers (91%) valued these attributes above degree subject (62%) or university attended (9%)

Demand for higher-level skills in Northern Ireland industry was growing, the survey found.

More than over three quarters (83%) of businesses in the country expected it to rise in the years ahead, up significantly from 72% last year.

However, 72% of businesses that provided high-skilled jobs were not confident there will be sufficient skilled people available in the future to meet their needs, a figure up from 61% last year.

Almost a third of businesses increased graduate recruitment in the last year, above the UK average and an increase on the previous year, according to the new analysis of the 2016 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey.

Pearson College said: "The results demonstrate the importance of graduates to Northern Irish companies but also the need to ensure that those leaving our universities are skilled for business success."

College principal Roxanne Stockwell said: " While there are encouraging signs of growth in graduate recruitment and the demand for higher-level skills in Northern Ireland, it is worrying that firms are finding that many graduates they recruit aren't properly prepared for the world of work.

"Students are becoming more critical consumers of higher education and universities have a responsibility to meet this demand and ensure that students leave with the skills needed to succeed.

"We need more collaboration between universities and business, with courses designed, developed, delivered by industry, and opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience of business, through industry workshops and work placements."

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