Almost half of UK employers do not believe university prepares graduates for the world of work

What do you think?

Almost half (48 per cent) of UK employers do NOT believe university prepares graduates for the world of work, according to new research commissioned by The TEFL Academy.

  • 35 per cent of employers said that lack of work experience was their biggest concern when hiring someone who has just taken a gap year
  • 65 per cent of employers said that independence is the most valuable skill to be gained on a gap year
  • 48 per cent of employers would hire someone without a degree, if they had the right work experience

The international education specialists polled 1,824 UK employers to discover their attitudes on what makes an impressive CV, and discovered that much more than just a degree is needed to pique the interest of prospective employers.  

After earning their degrees, many graduates take time out to embark on a gap year abroad, and while some employers may be hesitant to employ those who have just taken a gap year due to lack of work experience (34 per cent), four in ten (44 per cent) of all employers said they don’t have a problem with it,just so long as they have picked up the right set of skills on their travels.  

The study revealed that independence is the most valuable skill to be gained from a gap year, with two thirds (65 per cent) of employers saying they consider this to be the most desirable trait a graduate can gain, as well as good communication skills (57 per cent), adaptability (57 per cent) and a sense of responsibility (49 per cent). 

Employers in the Information Research and Analysis sector are the most open to hiring those who have taken a gap year (80 per cent), but they would expect candidates to pick up independence (63 per cent) and organization skills (50 per cent) on their travels. 

Likewise, employers who work in Performing Arts and marketing would also hire prospective job candidates who had taken a gap year (70 per cent and 67 per cent respectively),  as long as they have developed their independence (76 per cent) and responsibility (80 per cent) respectively.  

Lucrative Languages:

The TEFL Academy also discovered that the ability to speak different languages is a highly sought-after skill, with a third of employers saying this would make a candidate more appealing.

Four in ten (43 per cent) employers consider language skills valuable in the workplace, with 43 per cent of employers admitting they would offer higher salaries to those who spoke one or more additional languages if it was beneficial to the role.  

The most lucrative languages in the UK (based on the average salary in jobs requiring the following languages) were discovered to be:

  1. German - £34,534
  2. Arabic - £34,122
  3. French - £32,646
  4. Dutch - £29,423
  5. Spanish - £29,262
  6. Japanese - £28,954
  7. Russian - £28,858
  8. Italian - £28,858
  9. Mandarin - £28,268
  10. Welsh - £27,85

Experience vs education:

The study also revealed that work experience is an important factor for employers when considering hiring a candidate – even more so than a degree. While one in ten employers confessed they wouldn’t hire someone with a degree and no experience, almost half of employers (48 per cent) said they would hire someone without a degree if they had the right experience - and 41 per cent have already done so.  

Top 10 job sectors that don’t think it is important to have a degree in their workplace:

1.      Law enforcement and security (75 per cent)

2.      Environment and agriculture (61 per cent)

3.      Leisure and tourism (56 per cent)

4.      Retail (49 per cent)

5.      Hospitality and events management (46 per cent)

6.      Transport and logistics (45 per cent)

7.      Property and construction (44 per cent)

8.      Sales (44 per cent)

9.      Media and internet (42 per cent)

10.   Engineering and manufacturing (39 per cent)

Rhyan O’Sullivan, Managing Director at The TEFL Academy, commented on the research: “It is not uncommon for students and graduates to take time out of their lives to experience a gap year abroad, however many people are apprehensive about having a gap on their CV.  

‘’Our research has discovered that the skills and traits gained through taking a gap year are actually really valuable to employers, especially language skills that are picked up.

“Instead of shying away from the fact we have taken gap years, we encourage people to shout about their experience to employers.’’

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