Ep.35: Isolated and Anxious, but Not Alone
With Paula Allen & Ed Mantler
Dramatic demographic shifts in recent years coupled with fast-paced technological change have amplified attention on the future of work and the skills needed by employers to sustain economic growth. Studies have explored the issue of “jobs without people” and “people without jobs” from various angles, with some focusing attention on the role of universities in preparing graduates for the workplace.
This report briefly reviews existing research on emerging employer needs and employment prospects for university graduates (particularly in social sciences and humanities), before mapping out approaches that aim to support graduates’ transition into employment. While debates persist, and although outcomes vary by discipline and population groups, there is evidence to suggest employment prospects for university graduates in the humanities and social sciences are better than some suggest — and, in particular, that they get better over time.
Data also indicates the so-called “skills gap” is, in part, a matter of perception and semantics and more work needs to be done to develop frameworks to support a better documented and nuanced understanding of the concern expressed by employers. At the same time, it reveals real challenges in terms of assessments and recognition that need to be addressed. In the final section, the report surveys a range of both longstanding and innovative approaches to enhance graduate employment opportunities and ease transition into the workplace. Some integrated into and adjacent to university education. They include program and curriculum-based activities, pedagogical work-integrated learning activities, co-curricular skills development activities, and career and placement services.
We come to the conclusion that in spite of the proliferation of such initiatives and increased collaboration between universities and employers, our knowledge is at best partial and future action needs to be supported by additional research. Among other things, we need: