According to multiple surveys in India, most recruiters feel that a vast majority of fresh college graduates are not employable. Different recruiters have different answers on how they define an employable job applicant. Every recruiter has a different definition of employability and a different requirement from a candidate. What is interesting is that even though all these definitions point to some aspect of the job candidates’ personality, none of them use the same language to describe exactly what they need. Why is this so?
Research in the field of student employability has discovered that this is a global spectacle. Employers do not have a common framework for defining an employable job candidate across countries like the US, UK, UAE and China. This creates a quandary for universities around the world who are expected to create employable graduates. How can they create an education system that develops students towards that standard, when they do not have a commonly accepted standard for employability?
Hence, universities stick to the model of assessing student’s subject matter knowledge via exams and assignments in absence of a strong alternative model that assesses their employability, which leads to a mismatch between the expectations of global employers who assess the quality of a job candidate based on their personality traits.
Another issue is the flaws within current methods of hiring entry level job candidates. Many colleges teach their students how to write a resume, groom themselves and practice answering job interview questions. This just prepares the student to pass through job interviews regardless of how employable they actually are. The recruiter is faced with a large number of similar looking resumes that do not add much value. It is no wonder that almost 60% of new entry level hires do not work out as expected once they join the company.
A key component for building an education system that creates employable candidates is to first define the parameters of employability, which needs to be valid in entry level jobs across most industries. According to various researchers, the most commonly cited employability traits by employers include strong communication skills, good team working, an aptitude for solving problems, pro-activeness and a professional worth ethic. Interestingly, most employers do not want a creative, highly intelligent maverick. They just want someone who can understand what is needed by their manager and get the job done efficiently.
It would be easy for universities to have an education model that develops these traits. There are existing pedagogical innovations that can facilitate the development of these traits. Faculty need to move away from giving lectures and becoming facilitators to guide students’ self-discovery of new knowledge. Although some institutions have already adopted some of these innovations to enable their students to become more employable, they need to also implement ways to assess the development of the five aforementioned employability traits.
If employers and universities can agree upon definitions and measures of what makes an employable candidate, they will have a common framework in which they can work on to ensure students are educated in the manner most appropriate for recruiters needs.