What are employers looking for when recruiting young people into their companies?
There are plenty of surveys, reports and opinions available on this topic, but the answer is almost always the same: while academic knowledge and technical skills are important to get through the initial application process, personal attributes and transferrable skills matter more in the final decision.
Character and ‘work ready’ attitudes such as a positive approach to a role, punctuality, professional communication skills, and resilience are high priorities for all employers. However, they are not as common as you might think. A recent survey by Pearson, the education company, found that two in five employers were dissatisfied by the attitude of their interviewees.
Equally important to employers are transferrable skills such as problem-solving, teamworking, leadership, the ability to think creatively, and analytical thinking. These matter in almost all jobs; 90% of employers ranked them as a high, or very high, priority in the interview process, in a comprehensive survey by Nesta, the innovation foundation
Sadly, despite their importance to employers, our education system places little emphasis on nurturing and enhancing these attitudes and transferrable skills. This is why Baker Dearing Trust started University Technical Colleges (UTCs) ten years ago: they kept hearing from employers all over the country that the education system wasn’t giving them what they needed from their young talent.
Through project-based learning, student mentoring, work experience, and helping to shape the technical aspects of the curriculum, employers play a very active role in all UTCs. As a result, our students see first-hand what employers need, and understand better the requirements of the various careers within these organisations. This, in turn, serves to cultivate the attitudes and aptitudes necessary for UTC students to succeed in their careers.
And our students literally stand out to employers. The opportunities they get from placements and working alongside our partner businesses means they’re well ahead of the queue when it comes to jobs and apprenticeships. Employers know their names. They know they’re work ready.
UTCs also have a longer school day than most schools; our students wear business attire; and by starting at age 14, UTC students study in a more ‘adult’ environment. This further prepares them for the world of work.
It is therefore no surprise that employers value UTC students. The feedback from a Managing Director of Siemens, Europe’s largest manufacturing company, echoes what we hear from many UTC employer partners:
“Today’s employer is looking for tomorrow’s innovation: UTCs provide an excellent opportunity for students to be prepared for that challenge, so that they can join employers such as Siemens as skilled technicians or as university graduates with a more informed understanding of business and industry in the vital fields of science and engineering.”