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Students must prepare early to succeed in the graduate job market

Students on campus

Fri 8th January, 2016

Students who seek out challenging opportunities to develop themselves are also more likely to learn new skills for future work. This puts them in a strong position when entering the graduate jobs market.

These are the findings reported today, Friday 7 January, by Dr Andrew Clements and Dr Caroline Kamau at the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology annual conference, based on a survey of 432 undergraduate students recruited from over twenty universities in the United Kingdom.

Dr Andrew Clements explained: “Graduate employment is a serious concern for universities.  Many graduates are looking for work six months after graduation, and some find themselves working in jobs that do not require a degree.  This has prompted universities to take action to improve graduate employability.”

Dr Andrew Clements of the University of Bedfordshire and Dr Caroline Kamau of Birkbeck University of London found that undergraduate students who felt more committed to their career goals and preferred to seek challenging goals for self-development were also more likely to be preparing for their future careers.  In turn, developing skills for the future and networking made students feel more confident about their future careers.

Andrew Clements said: “Undergraduate students often delay preparing for their careers until it is too late.  In the first two years of study the career may seem a long way away, but it is really important to set career goals as early as possible.  Students should commit to putting their plans into action because this will prepare them for the tough graduate job market.  Personal tutors are in a good position to encourage an early commitment to career preparation.”

Employability is high on the agenda at the University of Bedfordshire, with 92% of graduates in work or further study within six months (Destination of Leavers of Higher Education 2014).

The University has just launched a Graduate Placement Programme and, from 2016/17, is offering a placement year to all eligible Home/EU students free of charge.  Research has shown that placements enhance graduate employment prospects.

Bedfordshire University

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