SINGAPORE (Feb 21): Do schools really prepare students for what is to come after they graduate?

According to the Global Limelight Work Readiness Survey by global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon, 73% of respondents felt prepared or more prepared with the skills and capabilities needed for the workforce.

However, this confidence dropped when they actually entered into the workforce, with 39% stating that they were less than prepared or not prepared at all for their first job.

Moreover, when reflecting on how their university course prepared them for their first job, 39% felt it was less than up to date with current practice.

While it is imperative to have a sound technical fit to the job that an applicant applying for, it is the suite of complementary skills which employers are looking for that will allow the applicant to stand out from other contenders.

According to the survey, participants clearly appreciated the value of fine tuning softer skills, such as communication and planning, as playing a pivotal role in their employability.

For millennials, getting and staying connected is not a problem. But it is important to do so in a way where they are able to reap the benefits in creating personal networks, not just to update their social media platforms.

The survey showed that 23% of participants deem course work and related case studies as most valuable at university to obtain a graduate employment, while 20% deem that work placement as part of the course and 16% feel that personal networks are valuable too.

Meanwhile, technical skills related to career discipline ranked at the top to be outstanding in a participant’s first role at 28%, while course work and related learning were the most effective skills to obtaining graduate employment (23%).

The survey also found knowledge about the application of digital technologies to be an increasingly important skill, but more work needs to be done around integrating it into the education framework.

Overall, 48% of participants felt less than prepared with digital skills with they entered into their profession after university.

Millennials struggle after graduation to get themselves ready for their first jobs.

The survey has shown that there remains a lack of alignment between university education and the necessary skills needed by millennials to excel in their first role.

Hence, it is important for employers to create an environment in which emerging professionals can be inquisitive, be heard and learn early in their careers from their peers and colleagues.