THE jobs market for graduates is tough. Those without work experience will find it particularly challenging this year, according to new research.
A report from High Fliers Research suggests that one third of graduate vacancies will be filled by people who have already worked for a company while studying.
Placements and work experience are hugely important, not only to students, but also to employers and universities involved. When businesses and universities actively connect they can drive innovation and value, and generate economic and social change.
All sectors benefit from bright, motivated people working alongside them, and future managers boost their chances of employment and of excellent academic results by seeing at first hand how practitioners solve problems, work as a team and deal with staff.
By the time doctors, lawyers and accountants have completed their training they are well on the way to being confident practitioners, having developed their skills through internship and years of “practice” integrated throughout their studies.
Yet managers, despite all the challenges of the current economic downturn, are too often exempt from practising their skills in the workplace before they complete their studies in business schools.
We have introduced employability modules into all years of our business and management degrees at Sunderland because being “job-ready” is so necessary to success.
Year-long placements are particularly valued by employers, but shorter stints of work experience, which mean students may still be able to complete a degree in three years rather than four, can be equally effective, while keeping fees down.
Universities and businesses that actively work together will help to boost the futures of the next generation of managers and directors. Together we can create ways in which students can experience relevant employment .
Securing placements is hard work, whether it’s the students or the lecturers grafting away. It’s undoubtedly worth the effort, however, and can have life-changing results. I’m proud that our business school recently had 100% success in organising placements with local companies for 65 students carrying out corporate social responsibility projects in the workplace.
If we make placements a priority then many more of them will manage to find satisfying jobs than would otherwise be the case.
Professor Bernie Callaghan is dean of the faculty of business and law at the University of Sunderland.