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We are coming to the end of a major employability skills assessment for a leading UK University and this involved interviewing graduate employers across the South East.  Employers within banking, digital media, recruitment and tech responded candidly to questions around employability – what do they realistically expect graduates to bring to the table and what doe their businesses or organisations really need?

Many of the responses were expected (teamwork and communication skills, for example).  Others perhaps came as a surprise – digital fluency being one.  Not because we were not expecting employers to require digital fluency but rather what they meant by it.  When probed, employers responded that they really wanted a tech savvy graduate who was familiar with popular apps such as Snapchat and understood how to write short content for social media.  In short, employers want the basic skills so many graduates have and often think employers will be put off by rather than impressed with.  Even in marketing, where one may expect them to know the odd thing about digital channels, one Director explained, “I don’t read Buzzfeed. I don’t use Snapchat.  And neither do most of my team.  So a bright grad who understands these channels is more valuable than they could ever imagine”.

With endless talk about the graduate skills gap and concerns about Universities not understanding employer needs, could it be that actually, it is all a bit more simple that we thought:  encourage graduates to use the skills they have, use the tools and platforms they love – and remember to tell employers about it in their interview?

 

Career Design is the UK’s leading Employability & Careers Consultancy – www.career-design.co.uk