Boosting Graduate Employment Figures: Our Tips

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A tough job market and constant talk of austerity measures paints a picture of doom and gloom for graduates. But there is much that universities can do to boost employability with forward-thinking schemes and strategic use of business analytics.

The recent case of a graduate who is handing out her CV to commuters, and planning to wear a sandwich board advertising her academic credentials as she walks around London may seem extreme, but the recession has made it tough.

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Things may be looking up, however; new research from employment research organisation Income Data Service suggests that graduate job opportunities are set to increase, although pay will remain frozen.

The 2011/12 stats from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) showed an average of 91.1% of full-time first degree leavers were in employment and/or further study. The employment rates for institutions varied from 77.4% to 100%.

Universities need clear institutional breakdowns of such information.  Business analytics software can be used to examine graduation statistics, and see at a glance which subject areas are the most successful in terms of future career or further study.

With the right dashboard, indicators are:

  • Easy to understand.
  • Relevant.
  • Quantitative.
  • Up-to-date.

The business of higher education

Universities are becoming increasingly commercial and, since the introduction of fees, many students have adopted a more consumer-like approach to study, expecting value for money.

Business collaboration is increasing to ensure graduates are employer-ready. One example is top accountant KPMG sponsoring students through courses with Durham, Exeter and Southampton Universities.

Actively boosting employability

Ensuring students are prepared for the world of work is a key objective, even if course content focuses on the academic side.

Business analytics software can highlight subject areas which may need support, as well as spotting best practices.

Universities can also help students gain skills relevant to the world of work alongside their degree; developing entrepreneurial initiatives, close links with businesses and opportunities to enhance skills. Graduate placement years enable students to develop confidence and contacts.

Measuring success

Success is measured by more than just financial gain, and aspirations vary. The Head of UCAS recently advised would-be students to follow their hearts as well as their heads, not to listen solely to the advice of parents and teachers whose primary concern is often job prospects, and to choose instead a subject they are passionate about. Universities must ensure their students graduate as confident, informed individuals who have gained much more than just their academic qualification.

Takeaways:

  • Ensure your institution is using the right business analytics tool to spot trends, strengths and weaknesses, and highlight best practices.
  • Maximise business partnerships and offer opportunities to students across all courses, regardless of academic content.
  • Focus on ensuring your students develop all-round skills which will ensure they emerge as competent, confident graduates who will have lots to offer.
  • Use dashboards to spot students at risk of leaving a course.

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