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Universities intensify demands for leadership training

It's a perennial refrain: employers say that college graduates are not ready for employment. Whether they criticize literacy, arithmetic, or problem solving skills, there is generally a lack of college students from each generation.

In the United Kingdom, a new report from the Chartered Management Institute, "Leaders of the 21st Century," finds that employers require more graduates with business experience. The report updates a 2014 study that identified the need for more "work-ready" graduates. It was compiled from a survey of 1,045 managers of small and medium enterprises and large organizations.

70% of employers surveyed believe that the management, business and leadership modules should be integrated into all academic grade subjects to boost employability, and 66 percent of employers wanted graduates to obtain professional titles, as well as their university degrees.

Employers say universities are taking note. The findings of the report coincide with those of the Institute of Student Employers, says Stephen Isherwood, executive director of ISE. "All the evidence shows that formal and practical practices make the world different from the employability of students, but the problem is that many students just want to enter, get their university degree and go back out."

He says that the important thing is to provide and promote management and leadership initiatives, and although the universities are not doing enough "they are trying to do more."

Employers must be clear about what they mean by leadership, says Rob Fryer, director of Development Service of Careers of the University of Leicester. The university has developed its own Transferable Skills Framework: a wish list of 12 skills identified by employers such as Teach First, the Civil Service, Barclays and Deloitte.

Students verify the skills acquired during their course and outside of the university to ensure they are on track. "We look for students who become owners and responsible," says Mr. Fryer.

The Leicester Award is offered to all students in their first semester and includes the option of a two-day residential course. It helps "develop a portfolio of talent in our graduate program," says Kate Croucher, university association manager at FDM Group, a graduate employer. "Students work on real-life business projects and can develop their professional preparation."

For Hilary Wu, a senior chemistry student, the Leicester program has helped her get a job placement at Pfizer. "The personalized and continuous support I've had has played a huge role in preparing me for life beyond college," he says.

Meanwhile, the University of York wants all of its graduates to gain leadership skills.

"The skills associated with leadership are important regardless of career," says Tom Banham, director of employability and careers at York.

The university's student employability strategy, launched in 2017, was established with the recruitment psychologists CAPP and with the contribution of employers, including Aviva, the insurer, PwC, the professional services firm, and the Clifford law firm. Chance. Freshers in any grade level course can enroll in York Futures, a voluntary program that combines numerical reasoning, situational judgment testing and development days. Second-year enthusiasts can enroll in the York Leaders program, a three-day course.

Vanessa Sefa, a second-year English and education student, has just completed the course. She wants to be a director, and the course gives her the opportunity to learn about working with other people. "I keep telling my friends to register, why would not you want to do it?" He says.

Mr. Banham adds that a degree is no longer reading on its own and presenting an exam. "Even in subjects such as history or English, we offer optional At Work modules, where students can work on consulting projects."

These programs are valuable, says Andrew Bargery, campus and campus engagement leader at PwC, who has hired students through similar employability and leadership programs at the universities of Manchester and Essex.

"We take students from all disciplines, so having a program aimed at all first-year students will help raise awareness that students can apply for a variety of careers regardless of what they are studying."

Critics may say that employers are shirking responsibility for training by returning costs to universities. No, if companies continue to do their bit, says Mr. Bargery. "We will never use programs like this to replace the training and development we offer, but it does mean that students are better prepared for what's to come"

Ms. Sefa says: "It's almost a matter of co-parenthood Universities are the last step before we enter the real world, and as parents they should ensure that we are equipped for the future. "

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