Think You’ve got all the Skills you need to join the Workforce? Think Again.

An emerging trend among new graduates is the idea of a (well-deserved) “break” after university. This assumes that you are now extremely qualified for the workplace. With the expectation that when you go searching, a job will be available. On the other end of the spectrum there are graduates who remain jobless due to their inflated egos. Unfortunately, the 4.5 GPA you scored at university does not necessarily transfer into any useful skills in the workforce.

So, instead of claiming there are no jobs in the market or lazing about at home, you should be analysing both your soft- and hard skills in order to determine how to stand out in comparison to your peers.  

Interestingly between OECD countries:

  • Around 85% of students graduating believe that they are ready to tackle the workplace without any problem
  • 50% of managers think that new graduates are well prepared for the workplace

This 35% difference is known as the “skills gap”, and employers these days are looking for key characteristics to bridge this.

There are a number of factors that influence the viewpoint of both graduates and employers.

  1. First and foremost the generational gap comes into effect heavily, meaning managers will more often than not fall into the generation X or baby boomer categories. Both of these generations were brought up in education environments different to our own, and not everyone in the workplace will be your age.
  2. Secondly, as tech continually develops, so do the ways millennials learn and communicate. To a degree, new graduates feel they are better equipped to handle generational problems because of their inherent understanding of their peers. In reality, a workplace will not shift the way it operates to align with generation z ideals.

Until then, what matters more is having the skills a workplace needs today.

So what skills are new graduates lacking?

Soft skills tend to be skills developed outside of university as these skills not only have merit at work, but in personal life too. There are two identifiable soft skills that employers think fresh grads these days are lacking:

  1. Critical thinking
    60% of managers felt that critical thinking is the number one skill new graduates are lacking when they start work. What exactly is critical thinking? It is a hard concept to define in words, but an example may look like this:

    Jessica is looking for a job in social media marketing, one key aspect of this job is data analysis. Her manager is not looking for someone who can collect and represent data – she would be required to look at the data and determine why the trend happened, the timing, frequency, etc. Her critical thinking will help harness the data provided and turn numbers into meaningful information.
  2. Communication
    Communication is another skill that 46% of managers feel new graduates lack, and this could be a possible example of the generational gap.

    A recent graduate in today’s society would sooner send a text message before calling an individual, whereas older generations believe a phone call to be more effective.

    The fresh grad may feel a text is more efficient (or in many cases, they feel too shy to actually talk to a real-life person thanks to the insane amount of time spent online). An older colleague may feel it’s lazy or impersonal. These different approaches leads to an increase in the “skills gap”.

Ultimately, research points to graduates lacking a lot more in their soft skills than hard skills. This comes as no surprise are hard skills are generally focused on in university. These can include skills such as public speaking, mathematics, design, coding, and writing, to name a few.

Soft skills on the other hand can be improved through everyday life, including leadership, ownership, curiosity and attention to detail. So if you plan on staying at home and turning down job offers because you think you’re too good, do your parents a favour and bridge the “skills gap”.

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