The Existing Skills Gaps Between New Graduates and Employers Expectations

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Executive Summary

The report investigates the existing gap between the fresh graduates’ skills and those expected by the employers. The demands of the employers for the graduates have transformed with changes in economic markets as well as those brought by the new technologies. Nowadays, both private and public sectors demand for the graduates to be trained in readiness of the market. As education systems focus on developing graduate skills for the market, the employers are limiting their expectations to most needed skills in the workplace. This report intends to investigate the expectations of most employers among graduates and some of the needed recommendations for the performances. Job expectations among fresh graduates are low since most employers focus much on selecting experienced individuals in their workplaces.

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New graduates experience some challenges when it comes to meeting the employer’s expectations at work. The report examines researchers’ works regarding the existing gaps among the stakeholders’ requirements and the expectations from the graduates. New graduates are expected to have a variety of skills including career related and personal skills that enable them to perform efficiently at workplace. Technological skills play a role in enabling individuals to participate well in the adaptive and flexible workforce. Some of the skills expected by the employers include technological, analytical, communication skills, flexibility and ability to work as a team. The findings reveal that having these skills is critical for the new graduates to make influential contributions to any business especially in firms that are more diminutive. The conclusion is that the employers expect fresh graduates to have well-developed personal skills which align with current market demands. The report recommends that graduates should acquire transferable personal, technological and communication skills among others as needed as the trending market requirements.

Introduction

Workplace demands are increasingly changing as experts note that graduates are leaving school without adequate practical experience. New employees are expected to interact with other workers as well as use knowledge acquired at the university to perform effectively. Employers expect fresh graduates to have well-developed personal skills which align with the current market demands. Advanced level of technology is increasingly becoming important in workplaces especially in departmental systems. Thus, fresh graduates are expected to have the technological knowledge to handle the workplace systems. The new labour market also demands graduates to be flexible so they can fit in rapidly changing working conditions. Communication skills are also vital for proper social interaction and teamwork. Transferable personal skills such as the ability to work as a team and problem-solving are essential tools for fresh graduates. The current business industry requires adequate knowledge of social conduct for employees. It is by having the above skills that the new employees could effectively adapt to the workplace culture.

Transferable Personal Skills

Employers increasingly expect graduates to have well-polished personal skills to help them cope with work demands. However, fresh graduates may have skills such as motivation and adaptability but still need improvement (Lisa et al., 2019). From reviews of some students final results, most young graduates are often in a disadvantageous position in the labour markets compared to the experienced candidates (Lisa et al., 2019). According to Lisa et al. (2019), although students at the university level are trained to have such transferable skills, they may not be fully ready for working practice. However, employers prefer hiring fresh graduates since they are willing to undertake training (Lisa et al., 2019). Furthermore, impacting personal skills such as motivation takes a shorter period compared to training experienced employees.

Some organisations are focused on hiring freshly graduated individuals rather than those with more significant work experience since they are more adaptable to the organisation’s culture and requirements. This task is facilitated through the internship programs usually offered to students by some corporations (Abbasi et al., 2018). However, despite an increase in the number of work-integrated learning programs at Australian universities in recent years, only 37.4% of students in 2017 gained real work experience while studying (Universities Australia, 2019, p. 8). The main challenge in this regard is the excess of demand over supply. Australian universities have not yet managed to attract enough employers to the program, which limits the number of internships possible, in particular for international, indigenous and low socioeconomic status students. Additionally, there is the problem of covering student wages, which reveals a lack of funding for such programs.

Analytical Skills

Analytical skills entail the ability to deconstruct large information into small segments to make conclusions. It is the ability to apply critical thinking and reasoning to come up with the best decisions (Dinning, 2017). Analytical skills are essential in problem-solving especially those found at work. Employees with good analytical skills can solve work-related problems without involving the employer. Abbasi et al. (2018) indicate that “graduates do not possess listening, problem-solving, communication, leadership, interpersonal, analytical, self-management, numeracy and critical thinking skills as per expectations of the managers” (p. 8-9). According to Schmaltz et al. (2017), Australian students are lacking the ability to think critically hence are being trained to think as scientists. A high level of reasoning is also required to effectively address critical issues. Thus, universities need to implement programs to develop students’ critical and analytical thinking. For example, the University of Queensland offers students a Philosophy and Reason course that focuses on developing these essential skills (Philosophy & Reason, 2019). Such programs teach students to apply critical thinking in both everyday and professional situations.

Communication Skills

Proper communication skills entail the ability to receive and share information. Communication skills are crucial attributes in business as they are used in trading. A recent QS Employability Skills Gap Survey indicates that communication skills are the most valuable candidate skills for 98% of employers in Australia (as cited in Bridging the skills gap, 2019). It is important for the employees to have a smooth conversion which aids in sharing of information critical to running the business. The ability of the new graduates to interact with other employees and customers is essential to their productivity (Abbasi et al., 2018). However “employers giving it an importance factor score of 89, but a satisfaction score of only 57” (Bridging the skills gap, 2019). Thus, educators should provide students with the opportunity to develop such critical skills as communication. In particular, it is necessary to create a more open space for group and teamwork in the classroom, which is especially important for international students. Sonnenschein and Ferguson (2020) note that it is necessary to integrate special programs for the development of communication strategies also for domestic students, as well as work-integrated learning to improve written and oral skills. Most important are the participation in-class presentations, discussions, and writing assignments that students receive at the university.

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Technological Skills

Technology skills are the ability to operate computers and other technological devices. Many businesses have now adapted to technology and are run on a technological system. Thus, all operations are performed using technological devices. New graduates are required to have general knowledge of such technologies (Majid et al., 2019). Employers understand that all graduates may not possess technical skills such as programming and designing but expect them to have the most basic skills of operating such machines (Abbasi et al., 2018). The graduates must also be willing and ready to get trained so as to work with such technologies. The graduates must also show the ability to analyse computer systems data and understand its meaning. However, Calonge et al. (2019) underline that many companies in various countries, including UK, Japan, Taiwan Singapore and others, “were experiencing technology skills gap” (p. 2). This statement is also relevant in Australia, where there is a significant increase in the demand for technicians in various fields (Graham, 2021). Thus, universities need to provide students with more technology courses specialized in digital professions.

Flexibility and Leadership Skills

New graduates must be willing to perform in different working conditions and locations. They must also show the ability to work with minimal supervision and as a team. According to Majid et al. (2019), employers expect new graduates to be willing to work in different working areas. Research shows that most graduates are often unwilling to move from home areas and work away from home (Abbasi et al., 2018). This barrier has seen many graduates miss employment opportunities and stay for long without jobs (Abbasi et al., 2018). Employers expect new employees to be willing to move to new locations or work in tough working conditions to build their experiences (Abbasi et al., 2018). Indeed, flexibility would at time demand graduates to work without pay to earn experience. Thus, those not willing to work for free may take longer to land paying jobs and have no experience. Leadership skills are also important for the new graduates in the business industry. Leadership skills entail the ability to work with other employees without making major mistakes (Lisa et al., 2019). Employers expect graduates to act as role models or do the right thing without being pushed. The ability of these graduates to work as a team alongside other employees is crucial towards achieving the set goals. Leaders have excellent decision making skills hence may not need further support to do what is expected of them.

Discussion of the Results

From the above literature analysis, employers do not expect much from the fresh graduates but the most obvious. The graduates get little training regarding the new market in the industry. Indeed, they only receive introductions of the expected skills while others barely get some. The graduates, therefore, have skills needed by the employers but still have to be improved. Skills such as motivation, adaptability, analytical, technical, leadership and flexibility are essential to graduates. Employers need such skills from the graduates for effective functioning. Therefore, there is a clear gap between what employers expect and what they get from educational institutions. The gap is underdeveloped skills which upon hiring demand nourishing. There is also the existing gap of knowledge about what employers need from the graduates. The graduates, when leaving school, barely know what to expect or what is expected of them. The development of needed skills for the new graduates is essential to both the graduates and the employers.

Recommendations and Conclusion

  • ACMI University needs to train students to have better communication skills as they are important in workplace. Study shows that due to lack critical thinking and reasoning, students lack the ability to communicate ideas effectively. There is a clear inadequate personal skills amongst the graduates. These skills enable the new graduates to work efficiently in jobs hence performing better.
  • The institution also needs to help the graduates know what is expected of them (Dinning, 2017). Employers expect graduates to have flexibility in terms of work location and conditions. ACMI University should let the students know that they should be ready to work away from home and for any type of work to gain experience.
  • ACMI will also need to impact analytical skills to students so they can think critically and be in a position to solve workplace problems. This could be done by training them how to do critical writing thus helping them to think deeper.
  • ACMI will need to impact students with technical skills especially by offering computer training. Study shows that fresh graduates have minimal computer knowledge in that all they know is using two to three computer packages.

In conclusion, personal transferable skills, technical and leadership skills are essential for new graduates. Employers expect graduates to have a few skills and have others from training. These skills help them in social interactions, running daily activities and other functions. Adaptability and flexibility are essential skills for fresh graduates to work in any environments. ITskills are useful in running business operations as they use computer systems. These systems require specialized knowledge attained through computer training. Educational institutions have the mandates to impact the needed skills for the graduates.

References

Abbasi, F. K., Ali, A., & Bibi, N. (2018). Analysis of skill gap for business graduates: A managerial perspective from the banking industry. Education+ Training, 60(4), 1-8. Web.

Bridging the skills gap: Australian universities still hold the keys to employability. (2019). QC. Web.

Colonge, D. S., Shah, M. A., Riggs, K., & Connor, M. (2019). MOOCs and upskilling in Australia: A qualitative literature study. Cogent Education, 6(1), 1-16. Web.

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Dinning, T. (2017). Preparing sports graduates for employment: Satisfying employer’s expectations. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, 7(4), 1-6. Web.

Ghani, E. K., & Muhammad, K. (2019). Industry 4.0: Employers’ expectations of accounting graduates and its implications on teaching and learning practices. International Journal of Education and Practice, 7(1), 19-29. Web.

Graham, J. (2021). New report reveals Australia’s major digital skills gap. RMIT University. Web.

Lisá, E., Hennelová, K., & Newman, D. (2019). Comparison between employers’ and students’ expectations in respect of employability skills of university graduates. International Journal of Work-Integrated Learning, 20(1), 71-82. Web.

Majid, S., Eapen, C. M., Aung, E. M., & Oo, K. T. (2019). The importance of soft skills for employability and career development: Students and employers’ perspectives. IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 13(4), 7-39. Web.

Philosophy & reason general senior syllabus 2019: Overview. (2019). Queensland Curriculum & Assessment Authority. Web.

Schmaltz, R. M., Jansen, E., & Wenckowski, N. (2017). Redefining critical thinking: Teaching students to think like scientists. Frontiers in Psychology, 1(8) 1-7 Web.

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Sonnenschein, K., & Ferguson, J. (2020). Developing professional communication skills: Perceptions and reflections of domestic and international graduate. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 17(3), 1-16.

Universities Australia. (2019). Work-integrated learning in universities: Final report [PDF-file]. Universities Australia. Web.

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "The Existing Skills Gaps Between New Graduates and Employers Expectations." June 29, 2022. https://business-essay.com/the-existing-skills-gaps-between-new-graduates-and-employers-expectations/.

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