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Recruiting with 20/20 vision

30 January 2020

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This event took place before the COVID-19 pandemic and may not reflect the current graduate labour market in Wales.

Careers and Employability Professionals from Cardiff University have led an interactive session on the graduate workforce at the latest session in Cardiff Business School’s Breakfast Briefing Series.

After introducing the panel of speakers Megan Jenkins, Deputy Head of Careers and Employability at Cardiff University, got proceedings underway with a live poll which asked attendees to assess the skillset of a typical graduate.

She explained that this data would be used later in the presentation.

Following Megan’s introduction Llinos Carpenter, Employer Engagement Manager at Cardiff University, shared a series of statistical insights into the graduate labour market.

Setting the record straight

Young woman presents in lecture space

She explained that there are many assumptions about the graduate labour market in the UK and what graduates do when they leave university.

She said: “One of those big assumptions is that students leave university ‘en masse’ and travel to London where all the jobs are. Despite this rhetoric that all graduate level opportunities are concentrated in the capital, the reality is that most graduates and, indeed, most people never actually work in London.”

With supporting data gathered from Dr Charlie Ball’s analysis of the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (HESA) 2016-17, Llinos went on to dispel other myths including graduates only want to work for big business, rather enjoying the opportunities available at SMEs.

After setting the record straight, Llinos focused on the graduate labour market in South Wales outlining the numbers of graduates that either remain in the area following university or travel to the region from elsewhere, the average graduate salaries by sector and the types of graduate work on offer.

“What I hope that you’re starting to recognise, is that there is a huge talent pool on your doorstep that can potentially grow and future proof your business. Our diverse and talented student population here at Cardiff University is one of the most highly sought after by top graduate employers.”

Llinos Carpenter Employer Engagement Manager at Cardiff University

Her presentation concluded by outlining some of the characteristics and desires of the contemporary graduate or ‘Gen Z’ as they have come to be known.

Following Llinos’ presentation Kirsty McCaig, Work Experience Manager at Cardiff University, shifted the focus of the briefing onto the different extra-curricular opportunities available to students.

Like Llinos, Kirsty talked about some of the misconceptions regarding student work experience including unpaid positions and candidates who are unmotivated.

Mind the skills gap

Young woman presents in lecture space

At this point in her presentation, Kirsty compared the audience’s responses to the live poll posed at the briefing’s outset with data from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE).

She said: “If we look at your responses, they’ve followed a similar pattern to ISE’s. And that’s because things like resilience, time management, problem-solving and teamwork all score quite high as skills you would expect graduates to have...”

“While qualities such as dealing with conflict and business-appropriate communication are lower because they might not learn these at university. The way that they can gain these skills and be work ready graduates, is by doing some work experience and learning alongside their academic study.”

Kirsty McCaig Work Experience Manager at Cardiff University

Kirsty concluded her presentation by sharing some talent pipeline successes related to Cardiff University’s Santander Internship Scheme. She shared resources and contacts from Futures Connect, GO Wales, Cardiff Business School and the National Software Academy with briefing attendees and encouraged them to get in touch to talk about implementing these types of work experience opportunities in their organisations.

Picking up on Kirsty’s final point, Elisabeth Rilatt and Ceryn Lawless shared their experiences of Escentual’s employer partnership with Cardiff University.

Employer of choice

Two young women present in lecture space

After introducing their roles working as Communication Professionals in one of the UK’s longest running beauty e-retailers, Ceryn traced the relationship back to an advert the organisation placed on the University’s jobs board.

“It became quite evident that we were missing out on the student population here in Cardiff as well as staff and other key stakeholders.”

Ceryn Lawless Escentual

Escentual soon became an employer of choice for Cardiff students and graduates, attending careers fairs, delivering workshops for students and work experience opportunities following their ‘behind the scenes’ event.

Ceryn said: “The behind the scenes event was a really big success. And as a result we have so many students asking about graduate opportunities with Escentual, which helped elevate our brand awareness.

“Another positive was the impact it had on our employees. It was an opportunity for our managers and teams to rally together and shout about what we have to offer and the things we are doing to push the boundaries in the online retail market.”

Elisabeth brought the briefing to a close by sharing two films which showcased Cardiff University students Katie Goddard and Lily Cai who joined the company as a result of the employer partnership.

Find out more about Cardiff University’s Career and Employability Services for students and for organisations.

Cardiff Business School's Breakfast Briefing Series is a network of events which enables business contacts to find out more about the latest research and key developments from industrial partners.

If you were unable to attend, watch this recording of the event.

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