YOUNG VOICES

From Turning Up In Flip Flops To Quitting On Day One, Graduates 'Don't Have The Discipline They Need To Work'

17/08/2015 15:32 BST | Updated 17/08/2015 15:59 BST
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You spend years in the classroom, ceaseless facts and information needling its way into every nook and cranny of your brain until you slur algebra in your sleep.

You sit exam after exam, experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions and, come results day, allow a single sheet of paper to repeatedly determine your fate.

You make it to university, managing to pass first, second and third year; an impressive achievement considering that you've coped with the added stress of having to cook for yourself. You graduate, pat yourself on the back and think: got the grades, been through the process...I'm ready for the workplace! Well, according to the director of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), John Longworth, you are not.

Turning up to the office in flip flops, struggling to make eye contact with co-workers and quitting on their first day are all major faux pas new recruits have committed.

Speaking to The Independent, Longworth raised the issue of "employability", saying today's students often lack the "essential elements" needed for the workplace. He highlighted the education establishment is “driven to focus on grades and academic ability”, resulting in students graduating with an insufficient understanding of the skills and discipline required within a workplace.

With youth unemployment rates still high, this is not the type of news that graduates want to hear. After working hard and going to a good university, you expect to come out the other end fully prepared for what the working world has to throw at you, but this is clearly not the case.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library says: “We work with some of the UK’s leading recruiters and time and time again receive feedback advising that, despite graduates having great qualifications, they are difficult to place in roles due to a lack of work experience.

“Recruitment professionals are looking for candidates that can offer something more to their organisations. A degree can certainly play a valuable role in securing an interview, but once a candidate is in front of a potential employer, they need to demonstrate passion and other business attributes that can’t be taught in a classroom.”

Laura Slingo is a 21-year-old student studying English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire. She recognises the need of work experience and is spending her summer holidays on a three month work placement with CV-Library, which she sought independently.

She explains: “I totally understand why employers are suggesting that students are lacking workplace skills. I’ve learnt so much during my placement at CV-Library that could never have been taught to me through lectures and I hope this will put me in a much stronger position when I am seeking my first full-time job next year."

A solution offered by the BCC is to encourage the government to assess schools and colleges in terms of education outcomes instead of grades. This would push them to produce well-rounded students who could go on to thrive in a working environment. "While you can’t change who you are, you can change behaviour”, Longworth concluded.