The survey revelead that a stark undergraduate ‘reality gap’ persists with current students being overly optimistic about their career prospects and how well universities are preparing them for the workplace. 86% of current students rated their university highly in wanting to prepare them for work, with 34% scoring their university a first class nine or 10 in their employability focus. 84% of current students also think employers value their degree above work experience. 100% of undergraduates said university is the best route to improve job prospects.
In bleak contrast, the picture from graduates shows reality sinking in. One in three rate their university a failing five or less for their interest in preparing students for work. A third (30%) realise employers look beyond their degree, and are also keen to see how students develop skills through their Gap year and work experience.
However, most undergraduates and graduates (59%) think developing work-related skills is really down to them – only 29% think it’s up to employers to train them.
Samantha Fox, CEO of My Performance Pitstop, warns that today’s students may only be preparing themselves for disappointment if they place too much faith in their degree: “Perhaps university degrees should have some sort of disclaimer, like financial investment products: the value of this degree course may go up or down depending on prevailing market conditions. Students today are still very optimistic about how much value employers will place on their degree, an optimism which is not borne out once they start to look for a job.
“Graduates need to wake up to the fact that it’s up to them to develop the skills which they need for the job – and it’s good to see many already do. The emphasis has shifted completely away from training and development as an employee retention tool, or to develop a more rounded employee base. Many companies know that graduates will often quickly move from one job to the next, so they are trimming training costs to a minimum at this level. Graduates will need to take responsibility for building the skills which their next job will demand if they want to ensure they progress up the ladder.”