STUDENT LIFE / NOV. 29, 2013
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Are Graduates Work Ready?

University isn’t just about having fun, it’s a lot of hard work and late nights, so it’s a bit depressing to hear that once graduated we’re still not ‘work ready’.

We’re fortunate enough to have a wide variety of different courses to choose from, whether we want a degree in business, creative writing, events management, medicine, or underwater basket weaving (yes, that last one is a genuine course!). Though it seems that we can choose our career path, most graduates aren’t actually working in their field of study. It seems a great shame that we spent so much time (and money!) studying to be told by 52% of graduate employers that very little of us are actually qualified and fully prepared to work – and that’s just the employers in the UK! In fact, globally, around 40% of today’s youth are unemployed!

With such a high number of graduates unemployed, and with fees having risen from £3000 in 2010 to more than £8000 a year, it almost feels like getting a degree is worthless. It also seems that are very few options for today’s graduate – get any job you can and earn some money, or work for free to gain experience in the industry and become even more in debt.

It’s been said that University isn’t about prepping students for work, but rather it’s about examining and exploring a subject in depth and though, this provides students with a good understanding of their chosen subject, it does not teach them the skills they will need to survive and succeed in the workplace. So what can our society do about this problem; and what can students do to adequately prepare themselves for the world of work?

Gaining experience whilst studying is one way in which to help gain the knowledge and skills you will need for the workplace; whether this means getting an unpaid internship at a local company, or enrolling on an apprenticeship rather than a university course. Another way in which to gain experience is to work freelance for companies (this is however, an option that is only available for some jobs, i.e. writing). Entering competitions is also another great way to gain invaluable industry experience, whether it’s an opportunity to shadow someone, or a day working within an organisation.

Unfortunately, for those that feel that they cannot balance the work load the only other option is to apply for an internship after graduation. These are normally unpaid, however, the good news is that they can often lead to paid roles. Although, getting an internship (even if it is unpaid) can prove to be more difficult if you do not have any workplace experience beforehand. Catch 22 I know…

It is difficult to balance university work, a social life and outside work, but it’s not impossible. Gaining experience whilst still studying is highly beneficial and admired by graduate employers around the world. It’s a tough reality, but one that students will most likely have to face.

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