Right! Time for part 3 on my mini-series of blogs on students and employability, part 1 looked at Students’ knowledge/understanding of what employers are looking for and how this is developed in university through the likes of PDP or employability modules, while part 2 looked at work placements and how important having the opportunity to undertake a work placement is to a student’s employability prospects once they graduate.
Just as a little reminder, here’s the 4 points I highlighted as key areas to explore and unpick.
- Students’ knowledge/understanding of what employers are looking for.
- Lack of work placement opportunities in the Arts and Sciences curriculum.
- Not a strong enough relationship between Universities, small-medium sized businesses (SME’s) and students.
- Poor economy/job market.
3. Not a strong enough relationship between Universities, small-medium sized business (SME’s) and students.
My somewhat limited understanding tells me that you can probably break most employment opportunities down into 3 areas, employment in large firms, employment in SME’s, and self-employment, it’s just a guess really but It’s possible to break down all forms of employment into one of those 3 areas. Whether it’s an international business, in the third sector, or whatever it can probably fit into one of these 3 areas, it might be a strange way to break down employment but that’s that. Anyway, there’s a fair amount of literature that suggests that graduates favour applying for jobs at large firms as opposed to SME’s, why is this? Perhaps the prestige of working for a nationally recognized firm which can form a solid career path through the company, Maybe there’s a perception of greater job stability in a larger firm than at an SME’s or maybe it’s just that the pay is perceived to be better.
The truth is, that Small and medium sized firms have a lot to offer graduates in terms of employment opportunities. However, another question here is perhaps it’s not just a reluctance of students to seek employment at SME’s but also reluctance at SME’s to employ graduates in the first place? Maybe because they perceive them as not having enough relevant experience of the work environment, and are less able to ‘hit the ground running’ than candidates who do have experience, graduates have great potential, but is it that it’s larger firms that want employees with potential to grow and develop within a company, while SME’s just want someone who can come straight in and do a job with minimal guidance and supervision from the word go?
Most of these thoughts are highlighted in a journal article I’ve been reading recently about students and SME’s, well worth a read.
So we’ve established that part of the reason graduates aren’t employed in SME’s is because the idea doesn’t appeal to graduates as much as larger firms and that SME’s themselves would rather employ an experienced candidate than a fresh graduate. It’s clear that Universities have to play a huge part in changing this culture for graduates and SME’s to get the most out of each other. This ties in a lot with part 2 and the need for more work placements, this should be strongly incorporated in with local SME’s by universities acting as a ‘middle man’ to help pair students up with appropriate firms for placement opportunities that have the potential to develop into job opportunities once the student graduates.
More has to be done to raise awareness to students of the benefits of seeking employment at SME’s and likewise more has to be done to sell the benefits of employing graduates to SME’s
As with the other parts to this series I have a few recommendations on this area, but I’m saving them for the final blog of the series when I bring everything together. I feel like I’ve barely touched the surface of this really but I’m aware I’m writing a blog and not a dissertation so I should probably be mindful of word count!
As always if you have any comments, questions etc. feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or phone me on 01695 657311
Only another 2 parts to go! (3 at most promise)
Thanks again for reading!