Universities need more help to close digital skills gapc

02 Dec 2021

New research carried out in the UK and U.S. has revealed university graduates are joining the workforce without many of the skills needed in a modern job. The findings by online assessment provider, Questionmark show that just 48% of employers in the U.S. believe new graduates are “very well prepared” with the skills for collaboration, whilst another student survey showed 65% of grads hadn’t received any training to enable team-oriented projects to be more effective, enjoyable or productive. Whereas in the UK, around 69% of employers are facing a digital skills gap. Yet, universities believe they cannot address the problem alone. Higher education chiefs said they need assistance to ensure young people are equipped with the necessary digital skills employers are looking for. Questionmark founder, John Kleeman said of the findings: “Higher institutions acknowledge that they are unable to equip students with all the modern skills they need for today’s workforce. Employers must recognise their role in addressing this issue. Now more than ever, they need to invest in training for recent graduates. To understand exactly what training and support new graduates need, employers must first determine which crucial skills are missing. Staff assessments in areas like digital literacy or data literacy give leaders a clear read of strengths and weaknesses and help determine training priorities. Further tests after training can prove whether it is working.”

Grads under pressure

Vice-Chancellors and principals at numerous higher education institutions across the UK have said students are under more pressure than ever to make sure they graduate with the right digital skills, with one Deputy Vice-Chancellor saying that “trying to develop students’ digital capabilities alone is not going to work.” Findings from the latest research are included within a new report from Microsoft and LinkedIn (DEGREE + DIGITAL How today’s UK academic institutions can equip students to thrive in tomorrow’s workplace) highlighting the work that needs to be done to close the digital skills gap. Paul Philips, Principal and Chief Executive at Weston College said: “There is a huge pressure on younger students from their parents to make sure they are on a solid route to employment. I have never seen it so great as now.” The findings showed most senior leaders at universities and colleges in the UK are seeking support to bolster skills such as confident use of presentations and spreadsheets and a working knowledge of data, AI and Cloud.