Almost 100 unemployed graduates have been able to benefit from the Employability Skills programme that the Centre for Lifelong Learning has been running in partnership with the Careers Service over the last 6 months.
Recent figures show graduate unemployment at its highest level for over a decade. However, the High fliers Survey of January 2010 (based on the Times Top 100 graduate recruiters) provides a more positive view for the future, with 13 out of 14 key industries expecting a rise in graduate recruitment for 2011.
A key message from the survey was that, along with commercial awareness and work experience, employability skills such as communication skills, teamworking, analytical and problem solving skills are vitally important for success in the current job market. Candidates also needed to give evidence of where they have developed these skills – for example study, societies, work experience, hobbies and interests.
To help delegates develop and evidence these skills, a free 3 day programme, fully funded via the Economic Support Initiative, was developed to enable them to:
- Market themselves effectively
- Identify their personal preferences, strengths and skills
- Implement research strategies to anticipate the needs of employers
- Gain access to the ‘hidden’ employment market
- Produce effective CVs and application forms
- Evidence and sell their unique qualities at an interview
- Create a realistic plan for their continuing search for employment
- Develop the key skills that employers are looking for
As part of the ESI funded programme, all graduates were also eligible for free careers advice and support from the Graduate Employment Advice Centre based in the Career Service. This provides additional help with career planning, job search, and applications, as well as the opportunity to book mock interviews. Former delegates could also book a careers consultation with a specialist in their field. In addition graduates could benefit from 75% funding on further courses to help them develop key skills.
The highly interactive programme has already produced some great success stories. 50% of those who have responded to follow up enquiries have already obtained a job following attendance on the programme, and many attribute this success to skills they learnt on the course: “It was very helpful and undoubtedly aided me in securing this position”, “I strongly feel that the interview advice I gained whilst on the course, and the assistance of the Careers Service, helped me to secure the job”.
Delegates also reported an increase in their confidence and motivation: “It was great to meet others in similar situations, especially ones in more interesting sectors” stated one delegate. “I am fed up with all the sales and recruitment jobs which fill the employment pages; it was inspiring to meet people with varied and fulfilling ambitions. This really helped me to remain focused on my chosen fields, rather than lose confidence, direction and passion.” This view was echoed by others on the course: "Feel totally motivated, and ready to search for and find my dream job – A great experience!", “I really enjoyed meeting such a diverse crowd with different backgrounds, yet in a similar situation to myself”.
Commenting on the success of the course, Les Rees, Director of the Careers Service, stated: "Cardiff University recognises its role as a catalyst for enhancing the economic and social development of Wales and the UK. It is also committed to helping to build the skills that graduates will need so that they are able to contribute positively and add value in employment. The Employability Skills programme has contributed to both of these objectives: it has been successful from a local and regional perspective and, in terms of the many graduates assisted, from a more personal perspective."