As we continue to navigate through the continuing pandemic, the negative effects are becoming increasingly apparent. From high unemployment rates, to the uncertain future our graduates face.
A recent opinion piece in iNews considers the increasing challenges facing our graduates:
It argues that remote working and a lack of social integration could lead to a decline in soft skills. This could lead to growing issues with graduate retention if businesses expect graduates to understand how to communicate in the office setting from the off.
The decline in seasonal work, as well as the impact of the pandemic on how retail operates, means a lot of the soft skills students can develop alongside studying, are affected.
The article ended with an important question for us all, education and businesses alike: ‘what can we do to support them?’
As a University, what are we doing?
As universities, it is important that we provide the opportunities to our students and graduates to build up their soft skills to increase their chances of transferring these into the workplace. A lot of these skills are achieved through their degree and their adaption to remote learning is a testament to their resilience.
But what about those other soft skills that they are missing from retail settings or in-person group tasks? In a previous blog, we discussed how upskilling plays an important role in gaining these soft skills alongside more technical skills.
With free local support on offer from universities, such as the STEM-Up programme, and wider online support from the government with free online courses, HEIs are continuously working to support both businesses and students to be work-ready.
However, it is not just students that need this support: recent graduates also need access to the same level of support and resources. A local programme, Graduate Re-Tune, run in partnership between Birmingham City University, Aston University and the Department for Work and Pensions, works to support graduates in the local region to boost their employability. A consultant access possible skills gaps, and works closely with the individual to fill skills gaps and link with local business for recruitment support.
As a business, what can we do?
Businesses are facing a number of challenges: office space; managing workforce to ensure safety; an uncertain future and adjustment to delivering remotely.
It is understandable to have concerns about recruitment and on-boarding new starters in the current restrictions and work settings.
Another concern highlighted in the news article was around graduates finding it difficult for them to learn from others and finding it hard to impress their bosses, either with their character or through their development within their industry.
A risk to social mobility and diversity was also discussed within remote working. Quite rightly, we should be concerned about mental wellbeing and what we can do to offer support. Through the STEM-Up programme, you will be able to access mental health training, enabling businesses to support the wellbeing of their staff.
As well as this training, receiving support at the workplace and institutional levels needs to be easily accessible. Mind have a range of useful resources for individuals and businesses.
Another opportunity is through sessions such as ‘Meet the Employer’ at universities, with the aim of connecting with recent graduates and students pre-application. During these sessions, the connection between the future starter and business is established early on.
Covering topics such as work culture, development opportunities and work-life balance can allow for applicants to have a key insight into the business and feel connected from the start.
We’re here to support you
If you are a business looking to recruit talented work-ready graduates and students, whether you are an individual who is looking to build their skills to help your business grow, or are a graduate looking to access support in job searching, we hope this blog has given you an insight into the support available. As a community, we can come together and support one another as we navigate through 2021.
To find out more about how we can support, or how you can access student and graduate talent, enquire today…