Last week’s skills blog further emphasised the importance of creating wider learning and development opportunities for our students, alongside encouraging the conscientious reflection of these experiences to optimise their effectiveness. But how can we identify the specific skills that these opportunities should develop? Find out in the video below wherein Tom Lowe discusses how we can do this through mapping skills and identifying gaps, as well as what this looks like in practice at the University of Winchester.
 Harnessing the potential of extracurricular opportunities to enhance graduate employability in higher education (Moxey and Simpkin, 2021)
Through actively investigating the skills gaps at the university through mapping, Winchester is able to identify what skills are missing, and thereby create opportunities that develop the skills that their students are currently lacking. But which of these skills should be prioritised? Well, let’s see what the research says.
The 2019 ‘employers skills survey’, conducted by the Department for Education, aimed to identify the skills gaps in the current workforce. From over 81,000 responses from employers, employees across the UK were found to be lacking in:
- Specialist skills or knowledge (63%)
- Managing own time and task prioritisation (45%)
- Solving complex problems (39%)
- Knowledge of products and services offered (38%)
- Team working (34%)
- Customer handling skills (34%)
- Managing own feelings / handling those of others (33%)
To name a few (see the full list here).
So, what is the cause of this? The same year QAA Scotland conducted research with students, graduates and employers to explore their views on the skills that students develop during higher education. Both students and recent graduates agreed that, during their academic journey, they had developed skills that would improve their employability. However, they also perceived issues with the effectiveness of this development, namely:
- Knowing which skills were needed for their chosen career
- The extent to which their skills would fit the expectations of employers and graduate-level employment
- Having a clear way to evidence the skills they had achieved.
Join us next week where Alan Stuart, Director of Employability Service at Middlesex, will discuss exactly how they are developing graduate capabilities, alongside the importance of predicting the skills that will be demanded in 3-5 years so that we can ‘embed employability’ for the future. Subscribe below to stay updated.