Graduate job-seeking difficulties highlighted

Thu, Dec 27, 2012, 00:00

A survey of more than 400 companies has highlighted the difficulty facing graduates of some disciplines in securing jobs.

Only 12 per cent of employers surveyed by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) had recruited graduates from the areas of arts/humanities and social science in the past two years.

However, close to 33 per cent had recruited engineering graduates, while more than 20 per cent had recruited science, computing and maths graduates. Employers were also keen to recruit graduates from business and law.

The majority of graduates in the companies surveyed held higher or level eight degrees, while graduates in science and maths were more likely to hold master’s or PhD level awards.

Inadequate engagement

Overall, 50 per cent of companies said there was inadequate engagement between industry and higher education.

In a key finding, one-third of employers said they expected graduates to have a 2.1 degree or above and/or relevant work experience.

Employers are also concerned about graduates in some areas having the “right attitude”.

The National Survey of Employers’ Views on Irish Higher Education Outcomes is a response to the 2011 Hunt report on higher education.

That called for regular surveys of employers that could help as part of “the assessment of quality outcome” of the higher education system.

More than 400 companies – representing 144,500 employees – took part in the survey, which gives the most complete picture to date of how employers rate graduates from Irish third-level colleges.

Education groups

The survey was driven by a group of employer and education groups that included employers’ group Ibec, the HEA, the American Chamber of Commerce, the Irish Universities Association and the Institutes of Technology, Ireland.

The generally positive results of the HEA survey appear to confirm the finding of a 2011 report by the European Commission’s directorate general for economic and financial affairs.

That report concluded Ireland produced some of the most employable graduates in the world.