One of the things that has been troubling me over the last few weeks has been the mounting Graduate unemployment figures within the United Kingdom. Well over a million Grads currently find themselves out of work and sadly a solution doesn’t seem to be anywhere in sight. I recently saw a survey which claimed that approximately 60% of UK business leaders don’t see Graduate job prospects improving in the near future.
Whilst alarming in itself, even more concerning for me was the results of a recent study done by the British Chamber of Commerce. Out of 6000 UK Businesses surveyed, only 45% believed that today’s Graduates were equipped with the basic skills required to find work in today’s economy.
On the face of it, that’s a shocking indictment on both the existing education system and the future of Britain. Now I’m a big advocate for a dramatic revolutionary change to our Education systems, but before we focus 100% on that avenue, I want to ask one very important question.
What’s the agenda of the people providing the responses for those surveys?
The UK workforce is afraid. Uncertainty is lurking everywhere and people’s foremost concern is to protect their own job prospects. It’s a siege mentality. Nothing else is important, protect my job at all costs is the Mantra of the day. So given that climate, let’s assume you’ve just been asked whether a Graduate has the skills to do the job you’re currently doing. What sort of answer do we really expect people to respond with? In a climate of fear, nobody is going to say the Graduates have the skills, because they fear that if they do, then tomorrow they’ll be replaced by the “cheaper” Graduates!
Fear and self preservation are powerful motivators, especially in today’s climate. So I guess what I’m asking is, is a fear based agenda driving businesses to creating or at least exaggerating this ‘graduate skill shortage’ in order to protect self interests?
Let’s take an example commonly used to claim that Graduates are unskilled. Today’s graduates cannot spell. I’m sorry, but I’ve worked with a variety of senior business executives and let’s just say for the majority, spelling and grammar hasn’t exactly been what I’d call a strong point! So I’m not buying that. It’s a cheap argument that’s sadly easy to sell to the papers.
And that’s my biggest fear about all of this. The media starts to publish stories talking about the ‘graduate skills shortage’ and before you know it, it has becomes gospel truth. Companies start to believe it; Recruiters start to believe it; but worst of all the Graduates start to believe it. If our youth lose faith and confidence in their ability to contribute to society, then sorry folks, our future just got a little darker.
So are our graduates really that unskilled? Or is is a fear based agenda driving businesses to protect their own self interests, at the expense of our collective future?
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