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Your guide to better employability skills

Monday 16 May 2011 NUS News

Finding employment after studying can be a daunting prospect, to help students with the first step NUS has teamed up with the UK's leading business organisation to give an in-depth guide to gaining employability skills.

By teaming up with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), NUS is providing students with expert advice in a handy publication on what employers are looking for in new recruits and practical tips to help students meet these requirements.

The guide, ‘Working Towards Your Future’, explains how employability skills can be developed through university courses, but also by participation in clubs and societies, volunteering in the community and by gaining work experience.

Employability skills are vital to finding employment, 82 per cent of businesses said it is the single most important consideration when recruiting graduates, according to a CBI survey. However 70 per cent of employers said that university students need to do more to prepare themselves to be effective in the workplace.

The guide gives students key tips where to gain these skills, information on what help is available as well as how to present relevant skills to potential employers.

‘Working Towards Your Future’ has been published at a time where students are asking for more help from their institutions with finding a job and equipping them with the right skills. A joint NUS-CBI survey found that more than half of students want universities to do more to help them understand employability skills, such as customer awareness, team working and self management. And two thirds would like more support in developing these skills.

Aaron Porter, NUS National President, said:

"Access to higher education opens the doors to a world of possibility but it is incumbent on universities to do more to work with both students' unions and employers to equip their students to face the challenges the future brings. Students are increasingly demanding of their institutions and quite rightly expect more in the way of information, support and resources to prepare them for life after university.

"New graduates are expected to be increasingly adaptable in today's labour market and this new guide will help students comprehend the array of ways in which they can develop their transferable skills and career prospects at university by combining academic performance with involvement with their students' unions, clubs and societies, as well as by taking volunteering and employment opportunities.

"It is crucial that universities and employers work with students to provide proper signposting to ensure they are in a position to make informed decisions and to develop and realise their goals. A greater understanding of employability will enable today's students to develop themselves, make a contribution and fulfil their potential tomorrow."

Susan Anderson, CBI Director for Education & Skills, said:

“Employability skills are the most important attributes that businesses look for in new recruits, but graduates are currently falling short of employers’ expectations.

“Now we’ve developed a guide with the NUS to show how these skills can be gained not just by coursework, but by a whole host of other methods, such as participating in societies, volunteering and doing work experience.”

The CBI is the UK's leading business organisation, speaking for some 240,000 businesses that together employ around a third of the private sector workforce. The organisation is also the UK's official business representative in the European Union, which generates more than 50 per cent of regulation affecting British firms. With offices across the UK as well as in Brussels, Washington, New Delhi and Beijing, the CBI coordinates British business representation around the world.

Click here to download the guide.