Current affairs

What skills should recent graduates have?

Thursday, 16 de February, 2017

By Noelia García, a journalist at El Economista

A high level of language proficiency, the capacity to work at a global level, technical and social skills including aspects of leadership, empathy, assertiveness, intercultural awareness and the ability to promote interdisciplinary innovation are among the skills required by recent graduates in order to embark on their career in the professional world.  Talent recruitment experts state that it is hard to find a profile that adapts to the speed of the market, as educational institutions do not change at the same pace.

According to the Employability and Employment Barometer of Spanish Universities, prepared jointly by the CRUE, the UNESCO University Chair and the Social Projects Department of La Caixa, graduates believe that they have gained ‘little’ from university in terms of the acquisition of competences related to finding employment, while personal contacts are considered to be far and away the main means used to find a job. The same report reveals the large ‘deficit’ at universities when it comes to drafting their curriculums and preparing for job interviews.

In this respect, the employment market demands more professional skills from graduates than academic achievements, a demand that private universities are more than prepared to cater for, as they invest more in workshops and training customized to what the employment market needs. Another of the main advantages they offer is the tuition programs, with respect to which they are always more innovative, offering combinations of programs that have never previously been available and which are far more closely linked to the real business world. In addition, the vision of a university’s alumni is important for final-year students, as they act as a point of reference and an employment opportunity, with contacts and new expectations. There has been a paradigm shift from the university saying what it offers to recruiters setting the agenda.

As 80% of the jobs that future generations of professionals are going to do have not yet been invented, universities have to equip students with broad and flexible skills. These institutions have traditionally focused on technical skills, but they now have to provide a more rounded education.

Companies also value proficiency in the digital sphere, preferring students who have taken MOOCs and know how to use desktop publishing, design and programming software, as they have displayed their willingness to round off their studies with specialized skills. However, showing that you have the a range of these skills in the job interview is the best way of getting a foot in the door at the company. Although the profiles in the highest demand this year are engineers, IT professionals and Big Data specialists, according to the forecast of the temporary employment agency Randstad Professionals, the fact is that everybody can get training in the skills required for the new era. It does not matter whether you have studied languages, law, physics, engineering or so on, the important thing is demonstrating a team perspective, ethical commitment to the professional activity, adaptability to change, leadership and the capacity to communicate, particularly in another language. In fact, foreign language proficiency increases the likelihood of getting a job by 19%, according to InfoJobs. Moreover, 83% of the jobs advertised through this company insist that applicants speak a foreign language, 13% require proficiency in two other languages and 4% ask for more than two.

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