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West Midlands businesses hiring more graduates in 2016

West Midlands businesses hiring more graduates in 2016, but many question job-readiness of new starters

Graduate recruitment in the West Midlands is on the rise, but businesses are reporting concerns over the quality of careers guidance and graduates’ readiness for the world of work, according to new regional analysis of the 2016 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey by Pearson College London.

204 West Midlands businesses took part in a UK wide survey of nearly 500 companies, together employing over three million people, which was completed before the EU referendum. The results demonstrate the importance of graduates to West Midlands companies but also the need to ensure that those leaving our universities are skilled for business success. It reveals:

  • 35% of West Midlands businesses increased graduate recruitment in the past year, well above a national average of 29%. This is up from 26% in 2015, extending the expansion in job opportunities seen in recent years
  •  However, many businesses report worrying weaknesses in graduates’ general readiness for employment, with 29% reporting shortcoming in self-management and resilience, 37% reporting a lack of relevant work experience, and 41% not satisfied with graduates’ levels of business and customer awareness
  • Businesses in the West Midlands overwhelmingly (97%) believe the quality of careers advice young people receive is not good enough to help them make informed decisions about future career options. 90% of businesses surveyed would be willing to play a greater role in supporting schools and colleges in improving careers advice
  • West Midlands businesses look first and foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace – over eight in ten employers (84%) value these above factors such as degree subject (66%) or university attended (15%)

Demand for higher-level skills in West Midlands industry is growing, with over three quarters (80%) of businesses in the region expecting it to rise in the years ahead, up significantly from 69% last year.

However, 71% of businesses that provide high-skilled jobs are not confident there will be sufficient skilled people available in the future to meet their needs, up from 60% last year.

Commenting, Roxanne Stockwell, Principal of Pearson College London, said:

“While there are encouraging signs of growth in graduate recruitment and the demand for higher-level skills in the West Midlands, it is worrying that firms are finding that many graduates they recruit aren’t properly prepared for the world of work.

“Students are becoming more critical consumers of higher education and universities have a responsibility to meet this demand and ensure that students leave with the skills needed to succeed.

“We need more collaboration between universities and business, with courses designed, developed, delivered by industry, and opportunities for students to gain first-hand experience of business, through industry workshops and work placements.”

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